Thursday, November 06, 2003

Pale Blue Dot 

This betrays my techie background, fuelled perhaps by being a child of the ‘60s growing up with the space race…

I find it quite boggling that a human artefact is now leaving the solar system and heading off for the stars. Imagining where Voyager is now, looking back to its distant point of origin, reminds me of that famous pale blue dot image and the fractal nature of the universe. Just because the scale of human existence, in both space and time, is so much less than the scale of the universe, it doesn’t mean it is less significant. In a fractal, the whole is present in the parts, and the parts in the whole. So it is with the universe.

Even more boggling is that fact that after 26 years it is still working. I can’t help wondering whether the quest for commercial efficiency is now so rooted in the industrial psyche that we’d be unable to repeat that success, even with the mammoth advances in technology that have taken place since. Maybe I’m just being cynical, or indulging in some techie-nostalgia looking back to an imagined golden age. Whatever, I take my hat off to Voyager’s designers.

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