Notes from Pale Blue Dot

Reading Note Convention

This is the convention being followed for all reading notes exported after January 31, 2023 (and some previous exports):

KOReader/Exported Kindle Meaning
Lighten/Normal Yellow Quotables, concepts, and general ideas.
Underline Orange Farther thought is required on this for clarity.
Highlighted/Bold Blue Something strikingly novel/Deeply moving/Highly thought provoking.
Strikeout Pink In discord with this opinion.

Pale Blue Dot

by Carl Sagan

Wanderers: An Introduction

Page 13 @ February 13, 2017

There’s something heartbreakingly terse about the document: Can she read or write? No. Can she speak English? No. How much money does she have? I can imagine her vulnerability and her shame as she replies, “One dollar.” She disembarked in New York, was reunited with Leib, lived just long enough to give birth to my mother and her sister, and then died from “complications” of childbirth.


1. You Are Here

Page 20 @ February 16, 2017

From this vantage point, our obsession with nationalism is nowhere in evidence.

Mighty blow.

Page 23 @ February 16, 2017

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position

The human evil

4. A Universe Not Made for Us

Page 57 @ February 18, 2017

He longs for “the universe of Catholic orthodoxy”


Page 60 @ April 4, 2017

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.”

To be quoted in the review. :D

8. The First New Planet

Page 102 @ March 2, 2017

In every culture, the sky and the religious impulse are intertwined. I lie back in an open field and the sky surrounds me. I’m overpowered by its scale. It’s so vast and so far away that my own insignificance becomes palpable. But I don’t feel rejected by the sky. I’m a part of it—tiny, to be sure, but everything is tiny compared to that overwhelming immensity. And when I concentrate on the stars, the planets, and their motions, I have an irresistible sense of machinery, clockwork, elegant precision working on a scale that, however lofty our aspirations, dwarfs and humbles us.

On scientific romanticism.

15. The Gates of the Wonder World Open

Page 201 @ Aprli 3, 2017

But whether or not we have compelling, coherent reasons, I am sure—unless we destroy ourselves first—that the day will come when we humans set foot on Mars. It is only a matter of when.

A prophecy.

17. Routine Interplanetary Violence

Page 223 @ Aprli 3, 2017

There was something funny about Saturn. When, in 1610, Galileo used the world’s first astronomical telescope to view the planet—then the most distant world known—he found two appendages, one on either side. He likened them to “handles.” Other astronomers called them “ears.” The Cosmos holds many wonders, but a planet with jug ears is dismaying. Galileo went to his grave with this bizarre matter unresolved.

বেচারা গ্যালিলিও! :p

20. Darkness

Page 285 @ Aprli 4, 2017

but this would be self-indulgent and foolish. We must surrender our skepticism only in the face of rock-solid evidence. Science demands a tolerance for ambiguity. Where we are ignorant, we withhold belief. Whatever annoyance the uncertainty engenders serves a higher purpose: It drives us to accumulate better data. This attitude is the difference between science and so much else. Science offers little in the way of cheap thrills. The standards of evidence are strict. But when followed they allow us to see far, illuminating even a great darkness.

On Science…