Saturday, October 16, 2010

Life On Earth Too


Torben NOW: Thought We Were Kidding About This, Did You?

We're inaugurating a new category here at Before Nine, entitled Stuff Not Launched with Voyager 1.

You may recall (or not) that when the Pioneer and Voyager series of spacecraft were sent out to observe various planets in our Solar System (which isn't "ours", by the way), it was understood that they would eventually sail into deep space and just keep going until captured by Lrr of Omicron Persei 8, or something.

People at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, though it might be nice to include a message to potential extraterrestrial civilizations which might encounter a Probe -- kind of an advertisement: A "Hello, We are Friendly And Can Be Contacted And Are Possibly Good To Enslave Or Eat" kind of thing.


Pioneer 10 Plaque: Religious Conservatives Criticized NASA
As The Images Showed Human Genitalia (Photo: Wikipedia)

The tenth Pioneer probe, launched on March 2, 1972, carried a plaque designed by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, picturing male and female humans and other graphic indications of who we are and how to find us (I've seen Alien and Starship Troopers and District 9 and the old "V" series, and presume time will tell as to how smart Frank and Carl actually were).

Five years later, the Voyager 1 probe was launched -- this time, Drake and Sagan had included an even more ambitious addition: A gold-plated disc (Stereo LP technology, because 1977 was a pre-iPod era, my friends) which contained recordings of music, spoken words and songs, and the a message of greetings, spoken in each language of the people of the Earth.


The Voyager 1 Golden Disc (Photo: The World Almanac)

Unfortunately, the voice chosen to speak the English greeting was Kurt Waldheim, the Austrian then-UN Secretary General, and unindicted war criminal, though whether aliens will eventually appreciate the irony of this fact is uncertain.

There were also pictures of people smiling and beaches and puppies and flowers and colorful things. Pictograph instructions on how to access the images and the sound recordings were engraved on the face of the disc.

What wasn't included are things like this, or like this, or even things like this, which aliens will have to learn about on their own when they finally get here -- which also assumes we will still be here when they do, and the percentage chances that we will not appears to rise every day.

But, until then, let's all enjoy our Shiny New Blog Category.