At some time during 2014, the Institute for Pale Blue Dots was founded at Cornell University.1 The troubling vagueness of this statement, the impossibility of locating the founding of the Institute to any time more precise than the year 2014, immediately suggests that something odd is going on. More unusual still, we have a definite time for the Institute’s inauguration (9 May 2015), but one which occurs in the middle of the year following its founding.2 Our initial hypothesis is that this temporal strangeness—both the imprecision of founding date and the occurrence of the inauguration in the year after the founding—is a result of relativistic time dilation coupled with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. That the Institute’s mission is to search for habitable planets in other solar systems suggests even more strongly that our hypothesis is correct.
(Now, if we were given millions of dollars to look for pale blue dots, we wouldn’t begin with faraway planets. There are quite a few easier-to-find and closer-to-home blue dots, including several on the bottom of Jim Jocifero’s foot. If you, dear reader, happen to be a science donor interested in dots of any shade or hue, don’t hesitate even a minute before contacting us, so that, well-funded, we can join in aiding and abetting the advance of science by means of dot discovery.)
In any case, it seems that the Blue Dot Institute has given rise to quite a few imitators. In the past fifty-five years, we’ve heard about the founding of no less than seven ‘dot’ institutes. These include the Institute for Pale Green Dots, the Institute for Bright Red Dots, The [note the capitalization] Institute for Pink Dots of Moderate Luminosity, the Institute for Not-So-Bright Blonde Dots, the Institute for Brown Dots that Show Up When You’ve Gotten Too Much Sun, the Institute for Dots-Invisible-To-The-Naked-Eye, and the Institute for Bright Yellow Dots (which focuses on women’s swimwear).
We very earnestly hope that this explosion of Dot Science will lead to many new discoveries and expand the frontiers of human knowledge by several feet in every possible direction.
“Pale Blue Dot,” by Voyager 1, 6 June 1990. Public Domain, available at http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=601