This Is Not Rocket Science: Two Photographs

So I’ve been asked to talk about two photographs that have had a profound effect on me as a person. I figure that I should endeavor to make at least one of them related to the topic of this blog, huh?


This is one of the most iconic photographs in scientific history – Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot.” Within that small circle on the orange band is the Earth. That’s us, from 6.7 billion kilometers away. Kind of awe inspiring, to this day. When I first saw this, I was maybe 6, and I couldn’t properly comprehend it – how could everything I know be so small and insignificant? It was the photograph that made me interested in space travel, interested in all that vast space between the Earth and the Voyager 1 probe that took the photograph.


This photograph is much more recent, and completely unrelated to This Is Not Rocket Science. I discovered this photograph last year during a project I was doing on Chris Hondros, a war photographer. This is a photo he took mere hours before his death in Libya by a rocket strike from government forces. These are Libyan rebels, marching up the stairs into the light filtering through the smoke – into the long place after death they didn’t know they were headed towards, and ready to face it for the cause. This photo captures everything about the Arab Spring revolutions at once, and it still hits me hard to this day.

That’s it for today. I’m Richard Donaldson, and This Is Not Rocket Science.

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