There is an
opinion, common among scientists and intellectuals, that our Earthly
existence is not only rather ordinary, but in fact, insignificant and
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
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.