Our next issue will feature a piece about the Voyager Golden Record, which was launched into space 35 years ago featuring music, images and messages from Earth. We’ve compiled some of the fun facts that we’ve dug out about the project…
As of 2012, the two Voyager spacecraft became the third and fourth human artifacts to escape entirely from the solar system.
The record includes greetings in 55 human languages and one whale language.
Earth sounds featured include crickets, hyenas, heartbeats, morse code, the first cries of a baby and a kiss.
The trickiest sound to record was, in fact, the kiss. Some were too quiet, others too loud, and at least one was too disingenuous.
The motion picture Starman portrayed the Voyager Golden Record as having been located by an extraterrestrial intelligence who subsequently sent one of their own race to investigate intelligent life on Earth.
After NASA had received criticism over the nudity on the Pioneer plaque (line drawings of a naked man and woman), the agency chose not to allow Sagan and his colleagues to include a photograph of a nude man and woman on the record. Instead, only a silhouette of the couple was included.
Alan Lomax was said to be against the idea of including ‘Johnny B Goode’, arguing that rock music was adolescent. Sagan’s response was said to be: “There are a lot of adolescents on the planet.”
In a Saturday Night Live segment (“Next Week in Review”) in episode 64 of the show’s third season, Steve Martin’s character, a psychic named Cocuwa, predicts that the cover of Time Magazine for the upcoming week will show the four words ‘Send more Chuck Berry,’ which had supposedly been sent from extraterrestrials to Earth the week before.
In an episode of Pinky and the Brain, Brain changes the design of the Golden Disk so that it shows his and Pinky’s body as that of the leaders of Earth. When aliens intercept the disk, they capture Pinky and Brain as pets, thinking them to be the leaders of Earth.
In the speculative nonfiction series Life After People it is stated that, after a million years of travel in interstellar space, the Voyager probes will be so heavily damaged from micrometeoroid impacts that the disks will likely become unreadable. This process will be dependent on the frequency of particle impacts upon the spacecraft in interstellar space.
A key plot element of the 1994 science fiction film Without Warning involves an alien race having intercepted Voyager and relaying part of the UN Secretary-General’s message back to Earth.
The Golden Records also carried an hour-long recording of the brainwaves of Ann Druyan, who would later marry Carl Sagan.
The disc is a plot element of an episode of The West Wing, titled “The Warfare of Genghis Khan”.
One greeting, in Chinese, was “Friends of space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time.”
The final greeting came from Nick Sagan, son of Carl Sagan, aged six: “Hello from the children of planet Earth.”
The full article on the the Voyager interstellar record will be featured in the next issue, #87 October 2012, on sale August 31.