On Time Capsules and Humanity
This fall will mark the 30th anniversary of the launching of the Voyager
probes, and I just wanted to do something to mark the occassion.
I guess it is hard to explain, but I grew up with these probes. I remember
talking about them 5 years before they launched. I studied them and when they
launched in 1977, I wondered if they would ever reach Jupiter. It only took
2 years, but that was a long time for a kid.
I remember sitting up all night with cups of hot cocoa watching the televised
images when Voyager 2 flew by Uranus… and then again when it flew by Neptune.
Last year, Voyager 1 passed the 100 AU mark… that makes it 100 times farther
away from the Sun than the Earth. Arguably Earth's most successful scientific
But I've been stewing about something a little more human on that probe.
Knowing that these probes would be flung out into outer space, Carl Sagan
and crew put together a message to explain about the makers of the probe
to any aliens that would discover it.
Inside they included a gold record with pictures and sounds to explain what
life is like on this "pale, blue dot." Even though this record will survive
longer than our Sun will shine, the chances of it actually getting picked up
and analyzed by an alien race is next to impossible. Besides, every science
fiction story makes jokes about not being able to interpret it.
So why bother with such a project? Essentially it becomes a message, not for
aliens, but for us. An introspective reflection what we think it means to
be us. We are nothing more than germs on an egg floating in the middle of
nothingness, but we prize it, and are so egotistical as to think we are
I took some of the sounds and mixed it with some of the music in my collection,
and created a painting of sound as a tribute to the probe and to the
billions of creatures it took to actually produce it.
It is also my interpretation of what it is to be. Give it a spin.
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