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57053.  Sun Mar 05, 2006 6:51 am Reply with quote

Q: We all like to make music compilations for our loved ones. So, given the following items, who made this famous compilation and for whom: "Johnny B Goode" by Chuck Berry; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 by J S Bach; a selection of whalesong; "Melancholy Blues" performed by Louis Armstrong; An address by UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim; the SSR Azerbaijani Bagpipe Orchestra?

Bonus point: Someone saying "Hey, that's my compilation!" (technically correct.)

A: The human race made it, and sent it to aliens. It's the Golden Disc inside the Voyager space probes.

Notes: In 1977, NASA launched two space probes named Voyager whose mission was to travel to the outermost reaches of the Solar System, passing by as many planets as possible, taking pictures. The probes are now both far, far outside the solar system.

It seemed like a great chance, however, to include a collection of information about life on Earth, and so a pair of golden discs were made, with some clever language-neutral explanation of how to play them (and record-player style cartridges with which to read the grooves). The discs contained over a hundred encoded images of cities, nature and people, and about 90 minutes of music and languages from around the world, chosen by a select panel including Carl Sagan.

Ironically, because it will take about 40,000 years to reach the nearest star system, it's far more likely that the probes will be stumbled upon not by an alien race in the vastness of space, but by our own ships as we explore the galaxy in the millennia to come. So the probe will probably be found and put in the Smithsonian.

It was decided not to put naked pictures of a man and a woman on the disc, as there was so much controversy over the naked man and woman on the Pioneer probes that it was considered improper to be spreading our 'smut' across the galaxy. Never mind the millions of hours of porn that we are now transmitting at the speed of light through our TV broadcasts...

In a memorable Saturday Night Live segment, it was announced by Steve Martin that the first message from extraterrestrials was being received. Once decoded, the message stated, "Send more Chuck Berry."

Supplmentary Q: What images/sounds would you put on a disc to represent mankind?

Book: "Murmurs of Earth" by Sagan, Drake, Lomberg et al.


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