There is an opinion, common among scientists and intellectuals, that our Earthly existence is not only rather ordinary, but in fact, insignificant and purposeless. The late astronomer Carl Sagan typifies this view in his book "Pale Blue Dot":
Because of the reflection of sunlight the Earth seems to be sitting in a beam of light, as if there were some special significance to this small world. But it’s just an accident of geometry and optics.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
But perhaps this melancholy assumption, despite its heroic pretense, is mistaken. Perhaps the unprecedented scientific knowledge acquired in the last century, enabled by equally unprecedented technological achievements, should, when properly interpreted, contribute to a deeper appreciation of our place in the cosmos.
In this 60-minute video documentary we will explore a striking feature of the natural world. A feature as widely grounded in the evidence of nature as it is wide-ranging in its implications: the conditions that allow for intelligent life on Earth also make it strangely well suited for viewing and analyzing the universe.
The fact that our atmosphere is clear; that our moon is just the right size and distance from Earth, and that its gravity stabilizes the Earth’s rotation; that our position in our galaxy is just so; that our sun is its precise mass and composition: all of these factors (and many more), are not only necessary for Earth’s habitability; they also have been surprisingly crucial for scientists to measure and make discoveries about the universe.
Mankind is unusually well positioned to decipher the cosmos. To put it more technically, “measurability” seems to correlate with habitability.
But is this correlation between the existence of complex life and our ability to make scientific discoveries simply a coincidence or the result of blind chance? Or does it point to a deeper explanation? The Privileged Planet will examine these questions in a remarkable search for evidence of design and purpose within the universe.
Utilizing stunning computer animation and the visual archives of NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope Institute, the European Space Agency, and leading observatories throughout the world, the program will present a spectacular view of our planet, galaxy, and the entire cosmos.
The result is an extraordinary documentary
and a fascinating look at a timeless question:
What is our significance
within the grand scheme of the universe?