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OVER the last 50 years we have taken a series of beautiful pictures of our home planet from space. In one sense they are simply the holiday snaps from our first journeys into the cosmos - but for me they are the most important photographs ever taken. They force us to think deeply about our planet and its value.
They should be taught in every school, because if they were more widely known, and their true meaning appreciated, they might encourage us to recognise the real value of science and exploration.
They might even change the way we behave as a civilisation.
In difficult economic times, science and exploration always come under threat. It is easy to feel that we know enough about our universe to get by, at least until money becomes available again to spend on luxuries. The year 2010 is the worst of times and all our political parties are preaching a message of austerity. But I passionately believe our journeys into the unknown are not a luxury but a necessity.
We spend much of our time and money squabbling over small pieces of our world. Some of us are certain that our politics or religion are absolutely correct and that we know without doubt how every one of the seven billion humans on our "single pixel" should behave. Seen from so far away, the idiocy of these conceits is clear.
We certainly live on a tiny world, insignificant, perhaps, in the cosmic dark. But for all its fragility, our planet is immensely valuable. It is the only world we know of where life has evolved.