The oldest person alive was born on April 19, 1897, meaning that April 18th, 1897 was approximately the last time the Earth was inhabited by an entirely different set of people and if you don’t think that’s the realest shit ever then you can get right on outta town.
"Carl Sagan’s novel Contact (1985) and its recent film adaptation (1997) concerns the odyssey of Dr. Ellie Arroway, her passionate search for extraterrestrial intelligence. A brilliant scientist with a promising career, she has marginalized herself by focusing on issues considered disreputable by many of her peers. But when contact is actually made, her beliefs are vindicated and the position of homo sapiens in the universe is changed irrevocably.
Able to decode “the message” from outer space, scientists realize that it is a blueprint for constructing a machine for rapid space (and perhaps time) travel. The machine is built, and Ellie and her team make contact, but their entire trip and conversation takes only twenty minutes. Lacking evidence that their conversations with aliens were real, their testimony is rejected by their peers. We are left to wonder for ourselves as to the actuality of contact in the story, the possibility for it in real life, and the implications such contact might have for human beings.
The most critical theme of Contact concerns less the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, than the reality of an earthbound technological rationality which is so narrow and control-oriented that it is destroying the evolutionary opulence from which it emerged. The main message of Contact is that human beings have to overcome their hubris to recognize that they are not the most important, or certainly the only, life form on earth and likely within the cosmos at large.
If she only gets to ask one question to the alien “Vegans,” Ellie says, it will be this: “How is it that you are so technologically advanced, and yet have not destroyed yourself?” How can a culture, in other words, be technologically advanced, peaceful, and sustainable all at once? In their dialogue with Ellie, the Vegans frankly state that they see us as backwards socially, economically, and technologically, and knew our planet was in serious trouble when they received televised images of Hitler. We learn that the Vegans are cosmic shepherds, part of a community of space beings who for billions of years have cooperated in stopping the dissipation of the universe by recycling galaxies through black holes.
Clearly Sagan is issuing a warning that our current society, intensely driven by science, technological innovation, an insatiable profit motive, and bitter rivalries is completely unsustainable, tailspinning into oblivion. Sagan is also suggesting, however, that things could be different, that we need not be embarking on a path of ecocide if, among other things, we related to the earth and its myriad life forms in a more respectful and compassionate way.”
“And after the earth dies, some 5 billion years from now, after it’s burned to a crisp, or even swallowed by the Sun, there will be other worlds and stars and galaxies coming into being — and they will know nothing of a place once called Earth.”—Carl Sagan (via victoria-katheryn)