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Earth 1977, explained to an alien
December 13, 2006 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Voyager's Golden Record This is life on earth 1977 as it will appear when Voyager 1 meets life (ETA 40.000 years from now)... and finds a turntable. Pioneers 10 and 11, which preceded Voyager, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future. With this example before them, NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2-a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. Hello, ET!
posted by Bravocharlie (35 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
At least they didn't send a golden 8-track.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:37 PM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


Chuck Berry, 'nuff said.
posted by fixedgear at 12:41 PM on December 13, 2006


"SEND MORE CHUCK BERRY"
posted by wfc123 at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2006 [2 favorites]


This is Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. And if you are hearing this, it means I failed...this time. But I know that Transwarp technology is being developed...and so I leave this message to any Decepticon descendants that may find- may find - may find...
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2006


Wait a minute---they put the record on the OUTSIDE of the space craft? I don't know about you guys, but my records got scratched if you looked at them funny. How is this one going to fare after 40,000 years exposed to deep space?
posted by birdhaus at 12:51 PM on December 13, 2006


And thank god they didn't send any disco---this was the seventies after all. The aliens would fry us just for that.
posted by birdhaus at 12:54 PM on December 13, 2006


Radio Lab has a fascinating interview with Ann Druyan, who worked with Carl Sagan on creating the record and ended up marrying him.
posted by rajbot at 12:57 PM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


Metal Machine Music is what outer space most likely sounds like...
posted by AJaffe at 1:03 PM on December 13, 2006


Dalek

Help. Can't. Stop. Laughing.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2006


Wait a minute---they put the record on the OUTSIDE of the space craft?

From the first link:
Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket...
posted by octothorpe at 1:09 PM on December 13, 2006


Hey!

Wait a minute!

Doesn't NASA have to sell a few records before they get a gold one?
posted by mmrtnt at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2006


I had no idea that Blind Willie Johnson is on the record and that the Beatles aren't. "Dark Was the Night" is some transcendent (and, yes, dark) country blues.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 1:22 PM on December 13, 2006


I’ve been trying to put together my own music collection to replicate this for about 10 years now.
...I’m a lazy, lazy man.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2006


Onsite Google search:Voyager 1 golden record

Result 1: Voyager at 90 AU

Result 2: Dark Was The Night--Cold Was The Ground by Blind Willie Johnson
posted by y2karl at 1:29 PM on December 13, 2006


I apologize for not reading your post before reading this one, y2karl.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 1:30 PM on December 13, 2006


Oh man... a record.

That's already embarrassing... I can't even imagine the laughs it will get 40,000 years from now!
posted by BobFrapples at 2:09 PM on December 13, 2006


Records are perfect for this purpose. Because they can be scanned optically anyone with a good enough lense can figure out the data stream.
posted by Mitheral at 2:13 PM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


I can't even imagine the laughs it will get 40,000 years from now!

Yeah. Especially if the aliens screw around and play it too fast and everyone sounds like the Chipmunks.


posted by mmrtnt at 2:14 PM on December 13, 2006


Yeah, but all the hip alien civilizations are already on Orange-Ray DVD's! Jesus... do we want them to think we're all a bunch of bumpkins??
posted by BobFrapples at 2:16 PM on December 13, 2006


Nah, dude, if they're intelligent enough to meet Voyager in flight and figure out how to interpret its messages, they'll totally know that analogue sounds so much better than digital. In fact, I have it from good sources that the aliens bought the 40th anniversary edition of Pet Sounds on 180 gram vinyl from the indie store on that gentrifying planet near Alpha Centauri.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 2:24 PM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or does the licking-eating-drinking photo make humanity look terrifying?
posted by the jam at 2:30 PM on December 13, 2006


I love how, when making this record, they left out the whole "we are an evil race who destroys everything we touch" thing.

If the aliens ever do find the record and decide to pay us a visit, boy are they in for a shocker.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:33 PM on December 13, 2006


The assumption that any alien intelligence can decode our images/data/media is pretty implausible, philosophically.
posted by Salted at 2:39 PM on December 13, 2006


The diagrams on the cover give enough of a general explaination of how the record works that hopefully a civilization that understands a few basic physical principles could figure it out.
posted by Potsy at 2:52 PM on December 13, 2006


There are instructions, Salted.
posted by chimaera at 2:56 PM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


There are instructions, Salted.

Comprehensible to us, with a diagram. Still, it's the best we can manage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:29 PM on December 13, 2006


>they left out the whole "we are an evil race who destroys everything we touch" thing.

I never understood this ultra-cynical attitude. If theyre anything like us, then they too evolved from animals, are territorial, have racial/ethnical/national divisions, have self-interest, etc. If they didnt it would be doubtful they would thrive as a civilization.

Its just as likely they would say "How peaceful they are, in their nuclear age they didnt destroy their planet once!"
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:55 PM on December 13, 2006


Man, when are we gonna send up another image-filled plaque? It's time the aliens got to see goatse.

Also, this episode of RadioLab starts with a great little story about the assembling of the Golden Record, featuring Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:07 PM on December 13, 2006


I love how they have a starmap so the alien hordes can pinpoint our precise location, and realise we must be eliminated before we can eat all the waffles.

Also, the portly guy in the middle has taken a bite of waffle - turned it round, and is in the process of taking a bite from the other side. That's just stupid! All the flavour will run out.
posted by Sparx at 5:08 PM on December 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


The diagrams on the cover give enough of a general explaination of how the record works that hopefully a civilization that understands a few basic physical principles could figure it out.

Presumably they'd have to recover the thing from space before it crashed or burned up in the atmosphere some place so yeah. Actually I think the instructions are laughably unnecessary considering that. Who's gonna be smart enough to save it from destruction and too dumb to figure out it's an analog recording?
posted by scheptech at 10:54 PM on December 13, 2006


Oh, that interview was great, rajbot.
posted by Bravocharlie at 1:05 AM on December 14, 2006


The diagrams on the cover give enough of a general explaination of how the record works that hopefully a civilization that understands a few basic physical principles could figure it out.

Just as long as they don't make a copy for their friends.


posted by mmrtnt at 8:38 AM on December 14, 2006


Metal Machine Music is what outer space most likely sounds like...

Well, outer space is mostly empty and devoid of content, so I figure it sounds like Jessica Simpson.
posted by jonmc at 10:52 AM on December 14, 2006


Did someone say Jessica Simpson?
posted by fixedgear at 3:58 PM on December 14, 2006


I was going to say that "Murmurs of Earth" is available on PaperbackSwap.com, but then I requested it and that was the only copy. The paperback is on Amazon for $13.50 and the hardcover for $0.01, both as used items. I'll be reposting it on PBS when I'm done with it.
posted by etoile at 8:53 AM on December 15, 2006


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