popular Pale popular Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in outlet sale Space sale

popular Pale popular Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in outlet sale Space sale

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“Fascinating . . . memorable . . . revealing . . . perhaps the best of Carl Sagan’s books.”—The Washington Post Book World (front page review)

In Cosmos, the late astronomer Carl Sagan cast his gaze over the magnificent mystery of the Universe and made it accessible to millions of people around the world. Now in this stunning sequel, Carl Sagan completes his revolutionary journey through space and time.

Future generations will look back on our epoch as the time when the human race finally broke into a radically new frontier—space. In Pale Blue Dot, Sagan traces the spellbinding history of our launch into the cosmos and assesses the future that looms before us as we move out into our own solar system and on to distant galaxies beyond. The exploration and eventual settlement of other worlds is neither a fantasy nor luxury, insists Sagan, but rather a necessary condition for the survival of the human race.

“Takes readers far beyond Cosmos . . . Sagan sees humanity’s future in the stars.”—Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Carl Sagan served as the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo spacecraft expeditions, for which he received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) for Distinguished Public Service.
 
His Emmy- and Peabody–winning television series, Cosmos, became the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. The accompanying book, also called Cosmos, is one of the bestselling science books ever published in the English language. Dr. Sagan received the Pulitzer Prize, the Oersted Medal, and many other awards—including twenty honorary degrees from American colleges and universities—for his contributions to science, literature, education, and the preservation of the environment. In their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan of their highest honor, the National Science Foundation declared that his “research transformed planetary science . . . his gifts to mankind were infinite." Dr. Sagan died on December 20, 1996.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
 
The spacecraft was a long way from home, beyond the orbit of the outermost planet and high above the ecliptic plane—which is an imaginary flat surface that we can think of as something like a racetrack in which the orbits of the planets are mainly confined. The ship was speeding away from the Sun at 40,000 miles per hour. But in early February of 1990, it was overtaken by an urgent message from Earth.
 
Obediently, it turned its cameras back toward the now-distant planets. Slewing its scan platform from one spot in the sky to another, it snapped 60 pictures and stored them in digital form on its tape recorder. Then, slowly, in March, April, and May, it radioed the data back to Earth. Each image was composed of 640,000 individual picture elements (“pixels”), like the dots in a newspaper wirephoto or a pointillist painting. The spacecraft was 3.7 billion miles away from Earth, so far away that it took each pixel 5½ hours, traveling at the speed of light, to reach us. The pictures might have been returned earlier, but the big radio telescopes in California, Spain, and Australia that receive these whispers from the edge of the Solar System had responsibilities to other ships that ply the sea of space—among them, Magellan, bound for Venus, and Galileo on its tortuous passage to Jupiter.
 
Voyager 1 was so high above the ecliptic plane because, in 1981, it had made a close pass by Titan, the giant moon of Saturn. Its sister ship, Voyager 2, was dispatched on a different trajectory, within the ecliptic plane, and so she was able to perform her celebrated explorations of Uranus and Neptune. The two Voyager robots have explored four planets and nearly sixty moons. They are triumphs of human engineering and one of the glories of the American space program. They will be in the history books when much else about our time is forgotten.
 
The Voyagers were guaranteed to work only until the Saturn encounter. I thought it might be a good idea, just after Saturn, to have them take one last glance homeward. From Saturn, I knew, the Earth would appear too small for Voyager to make out any detail. Our planet would be just a point of light, a lonely pixel, hardly distinguishable from the many other points of light Voyager could see, nearby planets and far-off suns. But precisely because of the obscurity of our world thus revealed, such a picture might be worth having.
 
Mariners had painstakingly mapped the coastlines of the continents. Geographers had translated these findings into charts and globes. Photographs of tiny patches of the Earth had been obtained first by balloons and aircraft, then by rockets in brief ballistic flight, and at last by orbiting spacecraft—giving a perspective like the one you achieve by positioning your eyeball about an inch above a large globe. While almost everyone is taught that the Earth is a sphere with all of us somehow glued to it by gravity, the reality of our circumstance did not really begin to sink in until the famous frame-filling Apollo photograph of the whole Earth—the one taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts on the last journey of humans to the Moon.
 
It has become a kind of icon of our age. There’s Antarctica at what Americans and Europeans so readily regard as the bottom, and then all of Africa stretching up above it: You can see Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya, where the earliest humans lived. At top right are Saudi Arabia and what Europeans call the Near East. Just barely peeking out at the top is the Mediterranean Sea, around which so much of our global civilization emerged. You can make out the blue of the ocean, the yellow-red of the Sahara and the Arabian desert, the brown-green of forest and grassland.
 
And yet there is no sign of humans in this picture, not our reworking of the Earth’s surface, not our machines, not ourselves: We are too small and our statecraft is too feeble to be seen by a spacecraft between the Earth and the Moon. From this vantage point, our obsession with nationalism is nowhere in evidence. The Apollo pictures of the whole Earth conveyed to multitudes something well known to astronomers: On the scale of worlds—to say nothing of stars or galaxies—humans are inconsequential, a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal.
 
It seemed to me that another picture of the Earth, this one taken from a hundred thousand times farther away, might help in the continuing process of revealing to ourselves our true circumstance and condition. It had been well understood by the scientists and philosophers of classical antiquity that the Earth was a mere point in a vast encompassing Cosmos, but no one had ever seen it as such. Here was our first chance (and perhaps also our last for decades to come).
 
Many in NASA’s Voyager Project were supportive. But from the outer Solar System the Earth lies very near the Sun, like a moth enthralled around a flame. Did we want to aim the camera so close to the Sun as to risk burning out the spacecraft’s vidicon system? Wouldn’t it be better to delay until all the scientific images—from Uranus and Neptune, if the spacecraft lasted that long—were taken?
 
And so we waited, and a good thing too—from 1981 at Saturn, to 1986 at Uranus, to 1989, when both spacecraft had passed the orbits of Neptune and Pluto. At last the time came. But there were a few instrumental calibrations that needed to be done first, and we waited a little longer. Although the spacecraft were in the right spots, the instruments were still working beautifully, and there were no other pictures to take, a few project personnel opposed it. It wasn’t science, they said. Then we discovered that the technicians who devise and transmit the radio commands to Voyager were, in a cash-strapped NASA, to be laid off immediately or transferred to other jobs. If the picture were to be taken, it had to be done right then. At the last minute—actually, in the midst of the Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune—the then NASA Administrator, Rear Admiral Richard Truly, stepped in and made sure that these images were obtained. The space scientists Candy Hansen of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Carolyn Porco of the University of Arizona designed the command sequence and calculated the camera exposure times.
 
So here they are—a mosaic of squares laid down on top of the planets and a background smattering of more distant stars. We were able to photograph not only the Earth, but also five other of the Sun’s nine known planets. Mercury, the innermost, was lost in the glare of the Sun, and Mars and Pluto were too small, too dimly lit, and/or too far away. Uranus and Neptune are so dim that to record their presence required long exposures; accordingly, their images were smeared because of spacecraft motion. This is how the planets would look to an alien spaceship approaching the Solar System after a long interstellar voyage.
 
From this distance the planets seem only points of light, smeared or unsmeared—even through the high-resolution telescope aboard Voyager. They are like the planets seen with the naked eye from the surface of the Earth—luminous dots, brighter than most of the stars. Over a period of months the Earth, like the other planets, would seem to move among the stars. You cannot tell merely by looking at one of these dots what it’s like, what’s on it, what its past has been, and whether, in this particular epoch, anyone lives there.
 
Because of the reflection of sunlight off the spacecraft, the Earth seems to be sitting in a beam of light, as if there were some special significance to this small world. But it’s just an accident of geometry and optics. The Sun emits its radiation equitably in all directions. Had the picture been taken a little earlier or a little later, there would have been no sunbeam highlighting the Earth.
 
And why that cerulean color? The blue comes partly from the sea, partly from the sky. While water in a glass is transparent, it absorbs slightly more red light than blue. If you have tens of meters of the stuff or more, the red light is absorbed out and what gets reflected back to space is mainly blue. In the same way, a short line of sight through air seems perfectly transparent. Nevertheless—something Leonardo da Vinci excelled at portraying—the more distant the object, the bluer it seems. Why? Because the air scatters blue light around much better than it does red. So the bluish cast of this dot comes from its thick but transparent atmosphere and its deep oceans of liquid water. And the white? The Earth on an average day is about half covered with white water clouds.
 
We can explain the wan blueness of this little world because we know it well. Whether an alien scientist newly arrived at the outskirts of our solar system could reliably deduce oceans and clouds and a thickish atmosphere is less certain. Neptune, for instance, is blue, but chiefly for different reasons. From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest.
 
But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
 
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
 
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
 
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
 
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
 

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Top reviews from the United States

Stefan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
good reasons to explore space
Reviewed in the United States on March 21, 2017
Pale Blue Dot is a non-fiction and is Sagan’s analysis of the role space will play in humanity’s future. It was written in 1994, and therefore one of his last publications, as Sagan tragically died in 1996. The title of the book, Pale Blue Dot, was taken from the instantly... See more
Pale Blue Dot is a non-fiction and is Sagan’s analysis of the role space will play in humanity’s future. It was written in 1994, and therefore one of his last publications, as Sagan tragically died in 1996. The title of the book, Pale Blue Dot, was taken from the instantly infamous Pale Blue Dot photograph taken by Voyager 1 in 1990. In his book, Sagan created a short analysis of the importance of the human exploration of space. His reasons range from spin-off technology to the intrinsic value of exploration and discovery. But what struck me the most about Sagan’s book was that although he talked extensively about these as, in general, good reasons to explore space, they weren’t the best reason. Or rather, they weren’t enough. Sagan goes on to argue that the single greatest reason to explore space is the survival of the species. Something as an individual I haven''t ever really thought of. It is possible that we could destroy ourselves through nuclear war, yes, but that’s not the survival Sagan is talking about. He’s speaking about asteroids. There is a chance that at some point in the future a rock big enough to destroy human life will collide with Earth. Exploring space and developing new technologies is the only way to search out and redirect incoming asteroids. If incoming asteroids cannot be redirected it is important to the species that we have settled elsewhere. Really great book, highly recommend it.
37 people found this helpful
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Edward Delaplaine
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Sagan classic but where are the figures?
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2017
It’s a fantastic and inspirational book I should think for all. It’s especially hopeful for the post-religious seeking to find our place in the universe and purpose in life by voyaging to the stars. But why on earth in the 2nd decade of the 21st century can’t we have the... See more
It’s a fantastic and inspirational book I should think for all. It’s especially hopeful for the post-religious seeking to find our place in the universe and purpose in life by voyaging to the stars. But why on earth in the 2nd decade of the 21st century can’t we have the graphics, photos, and figures that Sagan has in the paper version somehow embedded in the Kindle version?
27 people found this helpful
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Carly
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Love it
Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2016
Made me feel insignificant and have an existential crisis.

Love it though
40 people found this helpful
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JT
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Only the first few chapters are read by Sagan....unlike the previously released audiobook in which he read the entire thing.
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2017
I was hoping for the entire audiobook to be narrated by Sagan but only the first few chapters are narrated by him. His wife narrates the rest. It''s puzzling considering he had read his entire book in 1994 and it was made available at some point (almost the entire book can... See more
I was hoping for the entire audiobook to be narrated by Sagan but only the first few chapters are narrated by him. His wife narrates the rest. It''s puzzling considering he had read his entire book in 1994 and it was made available at some point (almost the entire book can be found on youtube broken up by chapter unlike the CD set I purchased). It would''ve made more sense to have Ann Druyan read an introduction or include additional CDs of her readings while leaving his originals intact. My quest to find Chapter 22 narrated by Sagan continues...
21 people found this helpful
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scott h
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good writing, no images.
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2021
Ok, I am an adult and can read ‘chapter’ books, and do not require comic books. However, where are the picture and graphs the author references? It makes no sense to leave them out. Especially the first chapter. Here is Carl Sagan taking about The Pale Blue Dot (you... See more
Ok, I am an adult and can read ‘chapter’ books, and do not require comic books. However, where are the picture and graphs the author references? It makes no sense to leave them out. Especially the first chapter. Here is Carl Sagan taking about The Pale Blue Dot (you know, the title of the book), he references the picture, yet that most famous photo is left out of the book! What a big miss by the publisher.
6 people found this helpful
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Christine
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Love HIM Lots
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2017
Apparently I buy books while drunk, and then receive them and wonder when I thought I had time to read. Plus, I have a Kindle. But, how can you go wrong with Sagan? Love HIM Lots!
41 people found this helpful
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h owen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
... learning and science encompassed by this book are truly awesome -- but the humanity is greater
Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2017
The learning and science encompassed by this book are truly awesome -- but the humanity is greater. Writing some years ago he speaks to the moment... reminding those inflated with their sense of power that the earth they seek to control is but a small blue dot, disappearing... See more
The learning and science encompassed by this book are truly awesome -- but the humanity is greater. Writing some years ago he speaks to the moment... reminding those inflated with their sense of power that the earth they seek to control is but a small blue dot, disappearing in a sea of blackness. Precious and fragile.
9 people found this helpful
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Charles Sherry
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Planet Earth and its Place in the Universe
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2021
Dr Sagan goes into great detail of the four billion years existence of our planet from creation to the future possibilities of great danger and as a stepping stone to establishment of other places of human habitation. An interesting discussion of how religions and their... See more
Dr Sagan goes into great detail of the four billion years existence of our planet from creation to the future possibilities of great danger and as a stepping stone to establishment of other places of human habitation. An interesting discussion of how religions and their books are outpaced with the speed of science and astrological discoveries.
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Amit Sareen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent Read
Reviewed in India on October 30, 2018
Carl Sagan has surpassed all my expectations with this book. In this book, he has given a beautiful, in-depth knowledge and description of our home, our world, and all our neighbors. But he did not stop there! Apart from vividly taking us through the whole Solar System,...See more
Carl Sagan has surpassed all my expectations with this book. In this book, he has given a beautiful, in-depth knowledge and description of our home, our world, and all our neighbors. But he did not stop there! Apart from vividly taking us through the whole Solar System, hopping from planet to planet, tip-toeing over their moons and the beautiful belts which some of the planets wear, he goes on to explain our minuteness and insignificance, occupying not even a microscopic fraction of our Galaxy (leave aside the whole universe), and oh, how so badly we want this whole universe to revolve around us! I was just swept off my feet when I read: You spend even a little time contemplating the Earth from orbit and the most deeply engrained nationalisms begin to erode. He goes on to tell how we, the insignificant little toddlers, have just managed to hatch out of our little, blue, world floating in the immense expanse and darkness of the universe and already have started thinking of ways to alter the ''infinite'' when we can''t even protect our own little home. He not only asks some important questions but gives a nice outlook and perspective to get them answered before we go on and destroy the natural course of the universe. He has asked a very thought-provoking question, which was relevant then, decades ago, when this book was written, and even more now... today, in 2018 when I am reading this book and our world is on the verge of attempting to populate some other neighbor worlds like Mars. Can we, who have made such a mess of this world, be trusted with others? Anyhow, just like I said for the book - ''Cosmos'', the same goes for this - If you look up at the stars and wonder about the universe, this book is for you. This is not a novel, so don''t pick it up like one... It''s a book about your home, and your neighbors.
64 people found this helpful
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Hayley Westwood
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pale Blue Dot
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2020
I enjoyed this book to a degree as do enjoy learning about space and planetary exploration. However, it did feel a little dated with some of the information being from decades ago now. It would be great to see some more modern space exploration in the hopefully near future....See more
I enjoyed this book to a degree as do enjoy learning about space and planetary exploration. However, it did feel a little dated with some of the information being from decades ago now. It would be great to see some more modern space exploration in the hopefully near future. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the topic, but don''t think I would reread this.
2 people found this helpful
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John Dexter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Truly Visionary
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 25, 2010
Carl Sagan viewed space exploration as both a natural consequence of our nomadic past and an essential constituent of our survival: in Pale Blue Dot, he articulates this vision, making an elegant and compelling argument for a programme of sustained space-exploration in...See more
Carl Sagan viewed space exploration as both a natural consequence of our nomadic past and an essential constituent of our survival: in Pale Blue Dot, he articulates this vision, making an elegant and compelling argument for a programme of sustained space-exploration in order to cheat the cosmos of humanity''s ultimate extinction. Given Sagan''s prodigious output over an all too brief life, recycled material from earlier work is to be expected and the book opens with one of his recurrent themes, revisiting the idea that science continues to diminish humanity''s over-inflated sense of importance and plots our species'' ignominious ("great" ch.3 pp.20-37) demotion from cosmic "purpose" to universal bit part. Sagan also covers other favourite topics, including global warming and weapons of mass destruction, synthesising these themes into a comprehensive argument that humanity has reached a turning point in its evolution with the ability for self-destruction without, perhaps, the wisdom to prevent it. However, whilst some of the early content may feel familiar, this is not a simple rehashing of old arguments: it is a grand vision of humanity''s future and, with his characteristic clarity and restraint, Sagan makes a powerful argument that our innate curiosity will eventually drive us to the stars. For obvious reasons, the space exploration review appears a little dated but Sagan''s intimate involvement with much of America''s attempts to explore our solar system and unique ability to collaborate with Soviet scientists makes it a fascinating and insightful read nonetheless. Moreover, the discussion is really a vehicle for Sagan''s speculations about the potential for such adventure and he proceeds to indulge his imagination for cosmic housekeeping, boulder hopping and interplanetary squatting! This book can leave no doubt that Sagan was a true visionary and his premature demise is a loss to us all. Perhaps not quite as good as The Demon-Haunted World, but very, very close!
14 people found this helpful
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Assured Creative Media
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great read, poor quality book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 8, 2021
Ex-library book with a damaged spine and photocopied cover. Not what I expected especially as this was supposed to be a gift. I would recommend the book, but not from this seller.
One person found this helpful
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Mrs. M. G. Sackville-hamilton
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Surprise
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 21, 2020
I was not really expecting to get the book really because it is a scientific book and was printed so long ago. However, when it did arrive, I was delighted to get it from Blackwells in Oxford - where else?- of course.
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