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Take Four Minutes To Reflect On Your Place In The Cosmos

In 2013, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this image of Earth from Saturn. Seen here, our planet is 898 million miles away (1.44 billion kilometers) and appears as a blue dot at center right.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
In 2013, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this image of Earth from Saturn. Seen here, our planet is 898 million miles away (1.44 billion kilometers) and appears as a blue dot at center right.

So it's New Year's Eve again and that means resolutions — resolutions to stop this and resolutions to start that. We resolve to be thinner, to get stronger, to focus more, to be spontaneous. But regardless of our resolutions and regardless of our ability to achieve those resolutions, our lives on this lonely cosmic outpost, this "Pale Blue Dot," continue on. Until, of course, they don't. And that, in itself, is something to consider as we gird our loins for another of our yearly treks into resolution-land.

What, really, is the point of it all?

To answer that question you could turn to religion or you could turn to philosophy or, best of all, you could turn to Carl Sagan (with an assist from Adam Winnik and Hans Zimmer).

It may not help you with your New Year's resolutions, but it will fill you with a sense of pure wonder.


You can keep up with more of what Adam Frank is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @AdamFrank4

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Adam Frank was a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. A professor at the University of Rochester, Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a research group developing supercomputer code to study the formation and death of stars. Frank's research has also explored the evolution of newly born planets and the structure of clouds in the interstellar medium. Recently, he has begun work in the fields of astrobiology and network theory/data science. Frank also holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy fusion lab.