Shiplog #11 01 Jul 2021: Citizenship & diversity on Spaceship Earth

Since the last shiplog our spaceship has journeyed 33 million kilometers in the direction of the G Cloud, a destination reached in 10000 years. Prior to arrival we will need to sort out a few things regarding citizenship & diversity on the deck.

In the last month I had the pleasure to give a lecture entitled “Citizenship and diversity on Spaceship Earth”. The audience was a group of around 40 young enthusiastic first year students on their way to become teachers in secondary education. Teachers in Dutch, English, biology, economics, math, societal studies and physics & chemistry. With them I went back to 5 September 1977 to Cape Canaveral and I took them along on board Voyager 1 travelling 10 billion kilometers away from Earth. I told them the story of the making of the Pale Blue Dot photograph. I like that story because it mentally digests akin to eating a sandwich that is spread twice with a layer of frailty.

First there is frailty in the sequence of events following the conception of the idea for the photo until the actual taking. It spins a nice story that is a mix of technology and sociology. A sequence of events that delayed for nine years the taking of the photo. At some points in time it seems the storyline became as frail as a thread in a cobweb regarding the chances that the photo would ever been taken. But finally, after Voyager 1 has moved on 5 billion kilometers, the less than two seconds are granted.

Can you locate your home in this photograph taken by Voyager 1?

Secondly there is fragility in the impression the Earth makes on many humans when seeing this photo. The most powerful yet elegant phrasing of this mindset, that I am aware of, has been made by the person that conceived the idea for this photo and gave it its name: Carl Sagan in his book Pale Blue Dot. It was a pleasure to make the Dutch translation (“Bleekblauwe Stip”) as part of the lecture.

But the real impressive results came from the students themselves. In a mere few weeks they created a wealth of material reflecting their own ideas on citizenship & diversity on spaceship Earth and collected it on their website “Spaceship Earth”.

Veel dank aan hen en minstens zoveel aan stuurman Steven Dik!

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