The Voyager Interstellar Golden Records & How They Represent Humanity (Part 1 of 2)
Michio Kaku is a futurist, popularizer of science, and theoretical physicist, as well as a bestselling author and the host of two radio programs. He is the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics and a joint appointment at City College of New York and the Graduate Center of C.U.N.Y. He is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Kaku launched his Big Think blog, "Dr. Kaku's Universe," in March 2010.
Part One of Two
I often receive e-mails from my fans who state that my ability to popularize science and technology is reminiscent of the late Carl Sagan; This got me to thinking about the Voyager spacecrafts and the infamous 12-inch, gold-plated copper disks that are more commonly referred to as “The Golden Records” or “Voyager Interstellar Records.” There is a copy of the record on each Voyager spacecraft and contain images and sounds selected to portray the diversity of life and culture here on Earth. Each individual record was accompanied by a stylus and a cartridge with a set of instructions on how to play it and retrieve it’s contents.
It was a committee that was chaired by Carl Sagan that chose the sounds and images for the record and was ultimately responsible for the design of the record. They are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life-form who may find them. Sagan noted that this was like launching a bottle full of messages into the cosmic ocean. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers a wonderful interactive presentation about Voyager and the Golden Record where you are able to hear the sounds, greetings and view the images.
The sounds include greetings in 55 languages, a personal greeting from President Carter and the Secretary General of the U.N., and music from various countries including India, Peru, China, Japan and Mexico. Some of the artists include Mozart, Bach, Beethoven—and even Louis Armstrong and Chuck Berry. Also included are 100 sounds from nature, including babies crying, dogs barking, a crashing surf, birds chirping, and a mountain breeze.
The 116 images on the record are encoded in analog form and composed of 512 vertical lines. Amongst the images are a solar location map, simple mathematical definitions, physical unit definitions, solar system parameters, the solar system & planets, chemical definitions, DNA structure, human anatomy, a woman giving birth and a nursing mother, a schoolroom, animals & insects, famous architecture, scenery & landscapes from around the globe and there is even one of a woman eating a grape in a supermarket. These are the images that would generally describe who we are as a people, the different cultures we have and how it is that we go about our daily lives.
(The Golden Record is attached to the each Voyager Spacecraft underneath a protective cover plate)
To be continued...
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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