This week’s Photo & 5 features the 2 golden audio visual phonograph records aboard the Voyager Probes 1 & 2. Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit this, but it’s true: I knew nothing of these records until I heard a reference to them on a public television cartoon that my kids were watching. See? Sometimes TV is a good thing. Anyway, I found the snippet of information that had been reduced to a 6-year-old’s understanding fascinating. So my son (and self-predicted man that will go to Mars) and I did some research.
What I learned makes me so happy. These golden records are basically little golden history books that we have sent to… well, who knows? They attempt to provide a broad, accurate picture of humanity and earth for any intelligent life that may come across them. Ever. A daunting and fantastic task? Um, yes. Now, without further delay, your 5 facts about these two very unique and interesting pieces of human history:
1.The above picture is of one of the 2 golden records, which are actually copper plated with gold. The cover is aluminum with an electroplated ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238, which has a half-life of 4.468 billion years. Now, this sort of business is far out of this history-minded girl’s realm, but, I’ve gathered that this means that anyone or thing that comes in contact with the records will at the very least be able to determine how old they are.
2.The golden records are aboard 2 separate spacecraft named Voyager 1 & 2, which were sent on their way in 1977.
3.The Voyager 1 Probe is now in interstellar space, and the furthest human-made object from earth.
4.The Golden Records contain an hour long recording of the brainwaves of American author and producer Ann Druyan. As her brainwaves were recorded, Druyan was asked to think of things including Earth’s history, civilizations, and falling in love (falling in love! So glad they included this).
5.The Records include music from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Guan Pinghu, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry, and Valya Balkanska, as well as spoken greetings in 55 different languages. Carl Sagan, the man in charge of Golden Record project, the wanted to include the Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun” on the records, but the record company EMI, who held the copyright to the song declined due to copyright concerns. Seriously.
Bonus 6: The Voyager contains printed messages from U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, and President Jimmy Carter, which says:
“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”
Now that is some pretty cool history.