On the Universe

Subatomic particle > Atoms > Molecules > Cells > Tissues > Organs > Organism > Population > Community > Ecosystem > Biome > Earth > Solar System > Milky Way Galaxy > Universe

I wish I still had the diagram of this I used during my teaching days. I look back at this organization chart as being quite profound, yet I know that I did not fully use its power in my teaching. Although I could explain it, maybe I didn’t grasp its magnitude. These days, it is that magnitude that grabs me when I watch one of my favorite videos – one that I have used here several times – this version of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. (Watch or continue below)

Many adjectives can describe the universe. For me, a few descriptors includes vast, mysterious, and glorious. As I watched the recent video to the words of physicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, those three descriptors still fit for me. Dr. Tyson’s words beautifully weave with Sagan’s (although to me, he tries too hard to be Saganesque with his speech).

Whereas Sagan sees each of us as speck on a planet that is “a small stage in a vast cosmic arena – a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark,” Tyson states, “We are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us.” Put them together … powerful.

Since the time of Aristotle, through the turmoil of Copernicus and Galileo, to the current insight provided by the Hubble Telescope, I realize how far we’ve come regarding the universe. Today, I stand in awe while feeling blessed – yet shake my head at those who fail to see the grandeur creation offers.

49 thoughts on “On the Universe

    • Wow Frank…I just read your words and watched the videos. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Pale Blue Dot and that image from Voyager 1. It always gets to me…always. I then stepped out and had a long look at Venus and Jupiter. WOW!

      I’ve been reading Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Chronicles and he is a great communicator. I commented to someone recently that he does sound very Saganesque in The Most Astounding Fact. You’re not the only one to notice. He just may be my new hero though.

      Wonderful post Frank!

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      • Alex,
        As you know, there are numerous versions of The Pale Blue Dot, but this particular one is the one that gets me the most – and yes – every time. It must be the combination of Sagan’s words and the images. Thanks for sharing your thoughts too!

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  1. earth as a blue dot in this universe… in this great universe… Always fascinates me to think about this. This is a great harmony… everything stands in mathematically… mathematics means harmony too… in music, in poetry, in live… sorry I am not a scientist or academician just an emotional writer/poet and in my mind, everything seems to me in a great harmony. Carl Sagan makes amazing points… “….the universe is in us”….. So many things that are invisible, passing through our bodies… we are almost connected with this great universe… what is to be in or out, or what is out or in…. does it make any sense… but we are all with everything; everything with all of us…

    Thank you dear Frank I enjoyed to read and to wacth these videos… With my English I tried to share something… With my love, nia

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  2. There are parts of Carl Sagan I liked, but the agnostic, atheistic seeming parts grated on me. He also had a view that life might be teaming out in the universe, but in the end technology would doom it. That is too dark.

    I see Earth as God’s Lovely Blue Marble deliberately chosen for consciousness to revel in His glory.

    The earth is a great subject.

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    • Randel,
      I see Sagan as agnostic because he is in awe of the wonders of this universe, regardless of how it is created. FYI: See Religion and Science in the sidebar if you are interested in more about my perspective about the interchange between the two disciplines as I have written a lot about it … thus find it fascinating. That said, it is also interesting to note that not all of Christianity agrees. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  3. Hi,
    We really are only a speck in the big scheme of things, just this tiny little blue planet that means nothing to the rest of the universe which is infinite.
    Great post and fascinating videos.

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    • Mags,
      I know the universe is big, but I just can’t relate to its bigness because it’s scale is so beyond the normal perspective. Glad you enjoyed this and thanks for commenting.

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  4. Great videos Frank. Are you and Alex trying to start a Sagan revival?
    As far as the pale blue dot and having a sense of perspective, I direct you to Zaphod Beeblebrox in the Total Perspective Vortex.

    That about summed it up for me.

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  5. I really enjoyed watching both of these videos! I also always enjoy looking back at the earth from the perspective of space as it envokes feelings of Love and compassion. As for the Universe I agree with the words” vast, mysterious, and glorious”. When thinking from the pale blue dot perspective a change in perspective is easy. A shift occures, what once appeared significant finds it’s place and what seems insignicant also finds it’s place. Thank You for the perception shift today! :+)

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    • Starla,
      Love and compassion are two more good adjectives associated with the universe and these videos. Your shift perspective is also thought provoking … so thanks for that and for commenting.

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  6. What an inspiring post! I love the fact that as we are in the universe, the universe is also in us, our cells with their own miniature universes spinning around. There is so much unknown still to be known, and I believe we have barely scratched the surface of it.. So much inspiration and joy in the search and research 🙂

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    • Mimo,
      Glad you enjoyed this post and hope you saw the connection to your post. We know so much, in terms terms of what there is to be known in the universe, we know so little. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

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    • Les,
      I consider being able to capture concepts as an important skill … and as a strength of mine. Yet, one must be carefully of overgeneralizing the concept, thus getting away from the key point. After all, there must also be some meat to back up the concept. Thanks for the kind words and for visiting.

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    • Robin,
      Absolutely. Ranging from the vastness of the universe, it’s continual creation, and who knows what is out there to learn – to the details here that photographs beautifully capture – simply wow! Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Thanks for sharing all of these videos, Frank. If you splice all of them together you learn that the Pale Blue Dot is made of stardust, and in the Total Perspective Vortex, we’re all really great guys.

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