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NASA Space Science

The Ultimate Interstellar Valentine Mix Tape 75

Posted by timothy
from the still-single-still-taking-applications dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "NPR reports that toward the end of the summer of 1977, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft that each included a golden record containing, among other things, the sound of a kiss, a mother's first words to her newborn child, music from all over the world, and greetings in 59 different languages. The records on board were meant to survive for a billion years, in the hope that some day, against enormous odds, they might cross paths with an alien civilization. The record was a special project of Carl Sagan with the help of Ann Druyan, creative director of the project. For Druyan, though, the summer of 1977 and the Voyager project carry a deeply personal meaning because it was during the Voyager project that she and Sagan fell in love. Then Druyan had an idea for the record: They could measure the electrical impulses of a human brain and nervous system, turn it into sound, and put it on the record so that maybe, 1,000 million years from now, some alien civilization might be able to turn that data back into thoughts." (More, below.)
"Just a few days after she and Sagan declared their love for each other, Druyan went to Bellevue Hospital in New York City and meditated while the sounds of her brain and body were recorded. According to Druyan, part of what she was thinking during that meditation was about 'the wonder of love, of being in love.' And the gold records? They're still out there with their offer, to whomever might stumble across them, of a human body newly in love. 'Whenever I'm down, ' says Druyan, 'I'm thinking: And still they move, 35,000 miles an hour, leaving our solar system for the great open sea of interstellar space.'"
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The Ultimate Interstellar Valentine Mix Tape

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  • by ionix5891 (1228718) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:57AM (#31133972)

    V'ger will fall into a black hole and comeback home in a few hundred years and then Kirk will save us all :D

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Wowsers (1151731)

      According to this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1 [wikipedia.org] , it better happen before 2025 or the probes power will run out. (We never did get to six such probes).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V'ger [wikipedia.org]

      • According to this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_1 [wikipedia.org] , it better happen before 2025 or the probes power will run out. (We never did get to six such probes).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V'ger [wikipedia.org]

        Why would that matter? It's not like it's going to stop moving after the power runs out. The alien civilization that builds an entire freaking ship around the probe and fixes its programming so that it can continue on a far bigger exploration mission can probably manage to add a power source.

        • by BobNET (119675)

          The alien civilization that builds an entire freaking ship around the probe and fixes its programming so that it can continue on a far bigger exploration mission can probably manage to add a power source.

          It would have to be at least twelfth power. Thousands of starships couldn't generate that much.

  • Never mind (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stumbles (602007) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @08:58AM (#31133980)
    Its a clever mask sending you to a paywall.
  • Try buying a needle for your 60's record player now....
  • by linuxbz (875073)
    Awwwwwwwwwwww :-)
  • Hello Earth (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:17AM (#31134030)

    Hi. I'm an alien.
    I have found your golden record.
    I'm thinking to share it with my race via an alien protocol similar to bit-torrent.
    What's my legal status?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Hi. I'm an alien.
      I have found your golden record.

      So why didn't you send me the first Ramones album like I asked you to?

    • Works by an on-duty employee of the United States federal government are public domain. Go nuts!

    • by jschen (1249578) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @12:00PM (#31134812)

      Hi. I'm an alien. I have found your golden record. I'm thinking to share it with my race via an alien protocol similar to bit-torrent. What's my legal status?

      Given your location, definitely non-resident alien.

    • by selven (1556643)

      It's all right if you have the ability to print out 2 million dollars.

      And can you print some out for me too?

  • by MercBoy (756722) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @09:19AM (#31134036)
    Don't these damn scientists watch TV? On a Doctor Who episode, a sample of blood was sent out on a probe, and the evil aliens used it to control everyone on Earth with that blood type. Now, with brain wave samples, they come back and turn us all into brain-sucking zombies just for their amusement. It will be the ULTIMATE zombie movie!
  • I wonder how much Sagan was paid for that bit of totally useless work...
  • Just asking....

  • They could measure the electrical impulses of a human brain and nervous system, turn it into sound, and put it on the record so that maybe, 1,000 million years from now, some alien civilization might be able to turn that data back into thoughts.

    That's like taking a couple of snapshots of the stock market and hoping a future civilization would be able to recreate the evening news.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by JeanBaptiste (537955)

      Right, kick ass. Well, don't want to sound like a dick or nothin', but, ah... it says on your chart that you're fucked up. Ah, you talk like a fag, and your shit's all retarded.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      How is it that such smart people come up with such dumb ideas?

  • Mixed Tape (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 14, 2010 @10:10AM (#31134190)

    There are some unpublished notes from Carl Sagan about this project. Here is one of them:

    If you want to make the ultimate interstellar valentine mix tape from scratch, you must first create the universe.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's pretty amazing to think that there's a little piece of humanity floating through the cosmos and someday it might just find its way into the hands of another sentient race. The odds are of course astronomically (literally) tiny that it will come into contact with anything bigger than dust, but it is definitely worth a try.

    It's even cooler that a little piece of Sagan is traveling out there in the cosmos too. I seriously doubt that his partner's 'thought's can be recreated from an audio recording of he

  • It sounds cute (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695)

    But it was a bad idea.

    Who knows who will find these disks. They could be friend, or foe ( or both...). And don't give me the 'they are too far away to be a threat', if our disk got there, they can get here and we gave them a freaking map and way to much information about us and our weaknesses. If we were hard up for real estate WE would use the information that way.. so why couldn't they do the same? As far as distance, if you are running out of room or resources, what is a few 100 or 1000 of years to find

    • Re:It sounds cute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @10:49AM (#31134394)
      Who knows who will find these disks. They could be friend, or foe ( or both...). And don't give me the 'they are too far away to be a threat', if our disk got there, they can get here and we gave them a freaking map and way to much information about us and our weaknesses.

      It's not distance. It's time. You're thinking in hundreds or thousands of years, and that's simply absurd. After leaving the Solar System, these probes will be lost in an inconceivably large expanse of space. Voyager 1 is due a close approach to the red dwarf star AC+79 3888 in about 40,000 years - where 'close approach' means a distance of 1.6 light years. And that's mostly because that star's moving towards the Sun, rather than Voyager moving towards it. Voyager 2 has no such close encounter planned, though it will come within a few lightyears of Sirius in about 300,000 years.

      For comparison: 40,000 years ago the last Neanderthals were wandering Spain. 300,000 years ago... well, there's evidence of the use of fire.

      And that's the timescale for a close approach to a star of the order of a lightyear. To actually be found, unless someone out there has godlike sensor technology (in which case there's no point trying to hide anyway), they'd have to come a lot closer in than that. Millions of years? Billions? These probes are small, and in a few decades their transmitters will fall silent and their radioactive cores die and their metal structures cool to the ambient temperature of deep space. They'll be hard to spot.

      Don't think of this as a message. Think of it as a time capsule. By the time they're found, if they ever are found, then whatever is living on Earth won't be H. sapiens any more. If there even is an Earth by then, or a Sun. The record doesn't say 'Here we are' - it says, 'Here we were'.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If there's one thing I've learned after hanging out on Slashdot for the past ten years, it's that a huge majority of Slashdotters really have no concept of time beyond a few hundred years or so. Many believe that mankind will still exist in our present form in another 7 billion (with a B) years from now when the sun engulfs the Earth. Nevermind that mankind has only existed for a few hundred thousand years (as homo sapiens), or that multicellular life has been around on this planet at all for a few billion
      • by houghi (78078)

        The record doesn't say 'Here we are' - it says, 'Here we were'.

        So basically it is graffiti saying Kilroy was here [wikipedia.org]

      • If the Star Trek movies taught me anything, it's that Voyager is due to be shot down by Klingons some five hundred years from now.

        • by lennier (44736)

          If Star Trek taught ME anything it's that in space there are only two dimensions, nebulas are only a couple of hundred yards across, all video codecs are instantly compatible, and if you die in an MMORPG you die in real life.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        I think that by the time they will be found, it will be somebody actively searching for artifacts from the 20th Century that is on some expedition for the National Geographic Society. Seriously, this would be a huge prize for anybody wanting to make the effort.

        In comparison, Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule was thought to be permanently lost at sea, as was the Titanic. Both have been recovered (or at least spotted and examined in the case of the Titanic), even if it took some time. I think the Voyager probe

        • To retrieve Voyager would be... difficult. Fantastically expensive. But not impossible.

          Assuming no exotic physics - no warp, no inertialess space drive, you fly around using recoil from throwing mass out the back at high speed - then the best we can probably hope for is a fusion rocket. It would have to accelerate to an immense speed to catch Voyager. Then brake to match velocities, actually recover the probe, come to a complete stop and accelerate back to Earth, stop again, and deliver cargo.

          Every stag

          • by Teancum (67324)

            I'm not suggesting that it is something which would be done in the next century with chemical rockets.

            Yes, I'd agree, it would have to be either a fusion rocket or something powered with anti-matter as fuel for energy density, and if it is using a reaction mass that the "exhaust" is moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light with an ISP that is incredible.

            That said, collecting Voyager at some point in the future is something that I believe will be possible. Records are currently kept both on it

      • by lennier (44736)

        where 'close approach' means a distance of 1.6 light years.

        Is 1-2 ly really considered a 'close approach' between stars? If so we're practically touching Proxima Centauri at only 4.2 ly.

    • by turing_m (1030530)

      Who knows who will find these disks. They could be friend, or foe ( or both...). And don't give me the 'they are too far away to be a threat', if our disk got there, they can get here and we gave them a freaking map and way to much information about us and our weaknesses.

      If Sagan had any sense he would have first encrypted the contents of those disks using state of the art DES.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      if our disk got there, they can get here and we gave them a freaking map and way to much information about us and our weaknesses.

      Why would aliens need to go hunting for a tiny space probe traveling far slower than light, that won't reach them for aeons, when they could just tune into PBS and hear all about us?

    • by RDW (41497)

      'Who knows who will find these disks. They could be friend, or foe ( or both...).'

      Don't worry. In case they are hostile, the final track is Slim Whitman's 'Indian Love Call':

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MhgnMX73Pw [youtube.com]

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Send more Chuck Berry!

      And of course when I read that, it was in the voice of a zombie.

      "Come in dispatch. Send... more... paramedics." -- Zombie ordering delivery; Return of the Living Dead

  • The scientists of Omicron Persei 8 have decoded the alien disc:

    Lrrr: Let's here it!
    Disc: fap fap fap fap fap...

    • The scientists of Omicron Persei 8 have decoded the alien disc:

      ...and were really pissed when it didn't contain the final episode of Single Female Lawyer...

  • At first glance, I thought it read "the sound of KISS" would have been better anyway, you do not want the aliens to think we are pussies do you!
    You wanted the best and you got it! KISS! (DEUCE)

  • ... so that maybe, 1,000 million years from now, some alien civilization might be able to turn that data back into thoughts.

    ... but that is completely impossible.

    I don’t mean that it would be hard. I meant that it is physically impossible. Even for ourselves. Because of the lack of information. It would be like saying “enhance“ on a 16*16 px thumbnail, and get out the map of the world including all streets.

    But hey, the gesture counts. :)
    I just hope we can tell the aliens that, before they interpret it as a intergalactic Bin Laden tape and start a preemptive attack. ;)

    • I don’t mean that it would be hard. I meant that it is physically impossible. Even for ourselves. Because of the lack of information. It would be like saying “enhance“ on a 16*16 px thumbnail, and get out the map of the world including all streets.

      That's a valid point if we assume there will never be more insightful ways to utilize the information.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @12:59PM (#31135194) Homepage
    It might sound charming to talk about Ann Druyan and Sagan falling in love. This was Sagan's nth marriage for large n. The first one was with biologist Lynn Margulis. Then later to artist Linda Saltzman. He had serious problems in his personal life. And many people who knew Sagan speculated that the final marriage would have probably eventually broken up as well if not for the fact that Sagan died. Sagan was an amazing scientist and publicizer of science but his personal life was very dysfunctional. Not at all someone I would try to emphasize on Valentine's Day unless I was trying to make a point about the inherent ridiculousness of so many romantic claims. Anyone who wants to know more about this fascinating figure should read Keay Davidson's biography of Sagan.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday February 14, 2010 @01:08PM (#31135230)

    I heard about this story on NPR yesterday. It's a neat story, and I had never heard about it previously. The line about aliens reconstructing the recording back into thoughts started me thinking though. It seems absurd, but how could you show it was absurd using science and not just opinion? The first thing that came to mind was measuring the information content in the recording, and trying to estimate the information content in thoughts. If the information content in the recording Information content of the thoughts, it is impossible to reconstruct the recording into thoughts no matter how advanced the technology. Brain waves have a very low frequency. On the order of 4-13 Hz. Even if you're able to cram several bits/Hz, that's still a very small amount of information. So the question remains, how to measure the information content of thoughts?

    • by goodmanj (234846)

      Impossible to answer at present. As another responder said, Shannon's information theory tells us that a signal can be highly redundant or noisy: its information content depends on how much of the garbage you can remove and still reconstruct the message.

      But you can only figure that out if you have a *receiver* which can detect and reformulate the signal. We can measure the brain's electrical signals, but we have no idea how to turn those back into thoughts. Until we can do so, we have no way to tell whic

  • Bach is there 3 times. Why so much Bach? Why not some Vivaldi or Corelli? What if Aliens hate Bach? With more variety there's less chance of them hating all.

  • Roses are #FF0000, violets are #0000FF, all my base are belong to you.
  • Ok, so hang on, record brain impulses in the hope that someone can reconstruct them as thoughts? That's like saying "I'm going to record the hard drive and fan noises on my computer in the hope that someone can reconstruct the game I'm playing". Riiiight. That sounds like trying to get small pieces of a complex whole and expecting someone to be able to make use of it. And I thought Sagan was supposed to have been a respected scientist?

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