Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What other medium was used to express the desire to wander, according to Sagan, as human civilization developed?

2. Sagan believes that Titan hosts oceans made of what compound?

3. Which of the following is one of the "great demotions" that Sagan cites?

4. What does Neptune's moon have less of compared to Titan?

5. What abstract concept does Sagan specifically say he is optimistic about?

Short Essay Questions

1. How did ancient people know about the planets?

2. What aspects of science make it unappealing to some?

3. What are the "great demotions" that Sagan refers to?

4. What seemingly important features of humanity does Sagan deny to be distinguishing?

5. Why does Sagan believe that the image of the "pale blue dot" undermined the "imagined self-importance" of humanity?

6. What "malevolent" theology does Sagan describe in Chapter 3, "The Great Demotions"?

7. How does Saga claim that human beings expressed their desire to wander as civilization grew?

8. What dangers did the Voyager I spacecraft face in taking a distant picture of Earth?

9. What is the problem of perspective in estimating the importance of human beings?

10. What was Sagan's involvement in the passage of Mars by the Viking probe?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Much of Sagan's discussion in this book centers on the idea that human beings are wanderers by nature. He sees this aspect of the human character as obvious and critical.

1) Explain Sagan's conception of how and why early humans were wanderers.

2) Discuss the ways that Sagan believes human beings cope with the desire to wander in the setting of increasingly sedentary civilizations.

3) Discuss some of the endeavors in space exploration described in the book in terms of the human desire to wander and explore.

4) Explain Sagan's opinion about how humans will become nomadic wanderers again in the future.

Essay Topic 2

Terraforming is the process of modifying and entire planet to make it more hospitable for human life.

1) Describe the processes of terraforming that Sagan outlines for Mars and the moon Titan.

2) Discuss the moral aspects of the effort of terraforming, and summarize Sagan's views on the issue.

3) Describe, according to information and arguments from the book, some of the benefits that the human species as a whole would reap through the wholesale terraforming of another planet.

Essay Topic 3

In Chapter 1, Sagan discusses in detail the photo of the "pale blue dot" for which he named this book. He regards it as a singular and impressive symbol of man's place in the universe.

1) Describe how the photo of the "pale blue dot" was taken, the risks involved, and how Sagan was personally involved in its creation.

2) Describe the photo itself, using details from the book.

3) Explain how Sagan thinks that this photo demonstrates part of the triumph of the Voyager spacecraft.

4) Discuss in detail the meaning of this photo to Sagan and what it says to him about man's place in the universe.

(see the answer keys)

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