OK, the final Cosmos has come and gone.
I’ll admit it; when Sagan read the Pale Blue Dot piece I teared up. It was beautiful, and I understand why they did it.
If I’d been on the writing team, though, I would have added this:
This image, our tiny, fragile world trapped in a sunbeam, came from a machine no larger than a closet, rocketed away from Earth over a decade before, from a distance of six billion kilometers – or over four hundred thousand earth diameters. One day, a group of conscious bits of matter on that Pale Blue Dot caused some electrons to wiggle back and forth in a particular pattern. Those wiggling electrons made a set of radio signals that bounced off a parabolic dish, shaped and formed and directed in just the right way to cause those radio signals to blast through space until they encountered that closet-sized machine, itself traveling far faster than a bullet from a gun, over five and a half hours later.
Those signals caused the machine to slowly and deliberately turn its carefully-designed camera precisely back toward the Pale Blue Dot, in just the right way to capture the image without blinding itself in the glare of the nearby Sun. After snapping the picture, the machine produced its own electron wiggles, bounced its own radio signals back toward the dot. Another five and a half hours passed and the signal, a planetary self-portrait, arrived back at the Pale Blue Dot, where those same conscious bits of matter processed it, printed it, and stared in wonder.
No other species on that Pale Blue Dot could have taken this picture. No member of this species could have done it alone. Through long, hard experience, through inspired guesses and hard-nosed skepticism, through lofty dreams and gritty reality, human beings learned to take pictures of themselves, even from six billion miles away. That’s pretty cool.