Tuesday, July 23, 2013

COSMOS part 2

These magical moments don’t happen very often these days.

My brother and I are ardent fans of Carl Sagan and his edifying video series called the COSMOS. I think I can safely say that my brother is more than just a fan of COSMOS, as he has it on his TV, computer, mobile phone - you name it!

It is undeniably a fantastic feeling to hear Carl narrate about the mystery of nature, its enormity, beauty and the infinite joy one receives while pursuing it and yet feel the yearning to want to know more.

Our joy knew no bounds when we heard a sequel of COSMOS narrated by the ingenious Neil Degrasse Tyson is expected to release sometime in 2014. As if the news wasn’t enticing enough, watching this trailer only made the wait painstakingly longer.

During a casual phone conversation my brother and I had  last evening, he said the most amazing thing to me. It is true that growing up, we get carried away with our routines too much to pause, take stock and appreciate small pleasures such as this. But I could not have missed this even on a sleepy conversation.

What he told me made me feel great about myself and made my whole life worthwhile.

Before I quote our conversation, I would like to quote Sagan’s very own pale blue dot – only to emphasize the gravitas and profundity of what ensues. 

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again 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 posturing, 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.

Me: I can’t wait for COSMOS II to release.
Brother: Yes, it is slated to release sometime 2014.
Me: But it feels like too long a wait. What if something happens to me by that time, what if I die?
Brother: Hmm! Then, you will conform to the cosmos, as your atoms would still be around. And what’s more, the video series will have Tyson talking about YOU!

*Yes, I repeat! This made me feel great about myself and made my whole life worthwhile.*


Bala said...

On a second thought, we already are part of the cosmos..Carl Sagan spoke about us and so would Neil. We are already atoms to the enormous universe!!

Vaishnavi said...

Yeah, that's a fairly legitimate perspective too!

Geetha said...

"Star stuff contemplating star stuff!"