Used Transmissions for Sale
The two Voyager spacecraft are bound for the Galaxy. Affixed to each is a gold-plated copper phonograph record with a cartridge and stylus and, on the aluminum record jacket, instructions for use. The humans sent data about their genes, something about their brains, and something about their libraries to other beings who might sail the sea of interstellar space. Although the recipients do not know any languages of the Earth, included are greetings in sixty human tongues, as well as the hellos of the humpback whales.
Photographs of humans from all over the world are attached, caring for one another, learning, fabricating tools and art and responding to challenges.
There is an hour and a half of exquisite music from many cultures, some of it expressing the sense of cosmic loneliness, the wish to end this isolation, the longing to make contact with other beings in the Cosmos. Recordings were sent of the sounds that would have been heard on this planet from the earliest days before the origin of life to the evolution of the human species and our most recent burgeoning technology. It is a love song cast upon the vastness of the deep.
But the Earth did not want to send primarily scientific information. Any civilization able to intercept Voyager in the depths of interstellar space, its transmitters long dead, would know far more science than the terrestrial science does.
Instead the Voyagers tell those other beings something about what seems unique about the Earthlings.
The interests of the cerebral cortex and limbic system are well represented; the R-complex less so.
In this spirit the people who launched the Voyagers included on the spacecraft the thoughts and feelings of one person, the electrical activity of the brain, heart, eyes and muscles, which were recorded for an hour, transcribed into sound, compressed in time and incorporated into the record.
In one sense the Humans have launched into the Cosmos a direct transcription of the thoughts and feelings of a single human being in the month of June in the year 1977 on the planet Earth.
Perhaps the recipients will make nothing of it, or think it is a recording of a pulsar, which in some superficial sense it resembles.
Many, perhaps most, of recorded messages will be indecipherable. But the Earth sent them because it is important to try.
Or perhaps a civilization unimaginably more advanced than the Humanity will be able to decipher such recorded thoughts and feelings and appreciate these efforts to share all these thought with them.
We have sent our messages because it is important to try, not because we’d like to sell used transmission. Image: © Megan Jorgensen