Five Billion Years of Solitude

The ever valuable Hermitary – – draws attention to “Five Billion Years of Solitude. The Search for Life Among the Stars” by Lee Billings [Penguin, 2013].

“Even for the non-scientist, and especially for that reader, Five Billion Years of Solitude is instructive. It underscores the paradox of knowledge versus helplessness, and the profound solitude of human beings on a fragile planet in a vast and ultimately baffling universe.
The famous 1990 Voyager photograph of Earth as a “blue marble,” which showed the necessary interdependence of all sentient beings on the planet, ironically also highlighted the stark reality of our uniqueness and solitude as a species and as individuals.”
Enhanced, enlarged view of Earth from the solar system portrait; Carl Sagan called this image the “Pale Blue Dot.” It is the most distant view we’ve ever recorded of ourselves.
five billion years
For a review of the book, see

“The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spaceprobe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from Earth, as part of the solar system Family Portrait series of images. In the photograph, Earth is shown as a fraction of a pixel (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of Carl Sagan.
Subsequently, the title of the photograph was used by Sagan as the main title of his 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.”

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