21 Jul 2013

Looking back at the Earth

Posted by jofr

AS11-44-6553

On July the 20th was the 44th anniversary of Apollo 11. Among the Astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, Mike was the best writer. Mike Collins writes in his splendid and magnificient book “Carrying the fire” about looking back at the earth and seeing the planet from a distance of 100,000 miles (on page 470):

“I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified fa├žade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.”

And he remarks about the fragility of the earth

“If I could use only one world to describe the earth as seen from the moon, I would ignore both its size and color and search for a more elementary quality, that of fragility. The earth appears “fragile”, above else. I don’t know why, but it does. As we walk its surface, it seems solid and substantial enough, almost infinite as it extends flatly in all directions. But from space there is no hint of ruggedness to it; smooth as a billiard ball, it seems delicately poised in its circular journey around the sun, and above all it seems fragile.

Carl Sagan would agree. In his famous words about the pale blue dot he says:

“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.”
~ Carl Sagan in Pale blue dot : a vision of the human future in space, Random House, 1994.

References

* Michael Collins
Carrying the Fire – An Astronaut’s Journeys
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974

* Carl Sagan
Pale blue dot : a vision of the human future in space
Random House, 1994.

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