complete, tiny, adrift

"It was February 1966 and I was twenty–eight and was sitting on a gravelly roof in San Francisco's North Beach. I had taken a mild dose of LSD on an otherwise boring afternoon and sat, wrapped in a blanket, gazing at the San Francisco skyline. As I stared at the city’s high–rises, I realized they were not really parallel, but diverged slightly at the top because of the curve of the earth. I started thinking that the curve of the earth must be more dramatic the higher one went. I could see that it was curved, think it, and finally feel it. I imagined going farther and farther into orbit and soon realized that the sight of the entire planet, seen at once, would be quite dramatic and would make a point that Buckminster Fuller was always ranting about: that people act as if the earth is flat, when in reality it is spherical and extremely finite, and until we learn to treat it as a finite thing, we will never get civilization right. I herded my trembling thoughts together as the winds blew and time passed. And I figured a photograph—a color photograph—would help make that happen. There it would be for all to see, the earth complete, tiny, adrift, and no one would ever perceive things the same way."  - Stewart Brand, designer of the Whole Earth Catalog.

The Apollo program was going full-bore by then and as NASA prepared to launch the Lunar Orbiter series of lunar-surveying spacecraft, Brand launched the "Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?" button campaign - with buttons sent scientists, senators, thinkers, the media, and getting some press out of it. Finally realizing that the photo would be a good PR move, NASA instructed Lunar Orbiter 1 to take a single black and white picture of the Earth on August 23, 1966.

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