1246: Pale Blue Dot
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: |
Please include the reason why this explanation is incomplete, like this:
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
The Pale Blue Dot is a picture of the Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft at a distance about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles). It was part of the Family Portrait, a series of images of the entire Solar System from beyond it.
The picture was taken at the request of Carl Sagan, a well known space scientist at that time. In 1994 Sagan wrote the book "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space" inspired by this picture. In the book, Sagan waxed eloquent about the picture in a widely-quoted passage. The complete passage can be found illustrated in this Zen Pencils comic.
Cueball quotes from a condensed version of this passage until he is interrupted by an argument over which speck in the picture is actually the Earth. When Cueball cries out in exasperation that it doesn't matter, then the entire authenticity of the image is called into question. This pokes fun at the fact that the Pale Blue Dot picture has very little visual attractiveness, apart from the viewer's knowledge that the central speck is actually our home planet seen from a great distance.
The first two sentences of the title text are also a quotation from Sagan's paean to the Pale Blue Dot picture, but then the text veers humorously into a very non-scientific conclusion about pagan deities.
The title text evokes the Cthulhu Mythos, as expounded in fantasy/horror works by H.P. Lovecraft and, later, August Derleth, which features a cosmology in which humanity is doomed to destruction through the workings of vastly more powerful supernatural forces. The text references Ba'al, originally a Semitic deity since associated with demonic or otherwise evil forces.
Another explanation is that Randall refers to the film character Ba'al from Stargate, who tries to conquer the Earth. The last sentence of the title text Randall urges the US Congress for greater funding of space exploration, leading humans to the same technological level as Ba'al.
- [Cueball stands on a podium, the Pale Blue Dot picture is behind him]
- Cueball: Consider this Pale Blue Dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. Everyone you love, every human being who ever was, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived out their lives on this mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. All our -
- [Heckling]: I think that's a stuck pixel. We're the speck on the left.
- Cueball: ...Ok, this Pale Blue Dot is everything you -
- [Heckling]: No, you were right before. That one is earth.
- Cueball: Look, it doesn't matter!
- [Heckling]: I knew it!
- [Heckling]: I think this is just a lens cap picture.
- At the time when this comic was published NASA did reveal two other pictures, showing our home planet from a long distance, Saturn and Mercury probes did picture the Earth at the same time. Earth appears as a tiny dot in these images as well as a result of the vast distance between Earth and the probes.