History Science Smartie Pants Tech

Carl Sagan, The Golden Record, and Eternal Love

In 1977, NASA came to Carl Sagan with a mission. Carl Sagan, being a highly respected astrophysicist from Cornell University, was presented with a job that would become one of the most influential of his career.

NASA was about to launch Voyager 1 and 2 into space, which they wanted to include a time capsule. At this time, the planets were aligned so that both space probes could be launched out to space, where they would take pictures of Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, before being flung out into deep space.

The time capsules would be included in the hopes that, should another intelligent species find them, they would be given a preview of life on Earth.

Image result for voyager 1
Voyager 1

So Carl Sagan set up a team. One member of the team was Ann Druyan. She would become the creative director of the project, now known as the Voyager Interstellar Message Project.

When the team was brainstorming ways to properly preserve the audio, Carl pointed out that standard audio systems, like cassettes, will not work. Especially traveling fast through space for possibly billion years. So the team decided to create a record. It would be copper, gold-plated, and the front would present directions on how to play it.

Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan would spend hours thinking of what needed to be on this record. They added the sound of thunder and birds chirping, whale sounds and greetings in fifty-five languages, some of which had been extinct for millennia. There was music from all cultures and epochs, a printed message from President Carter, and mathematical definitions.

Carl Sagan came up with the idea to include an EEG, which would register patterns of thought. He hoped that when the record is found, the alien civilizations to do so would be able to decipher human thoughts.

On June 1st, 1977, Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan realized that they were in love. Over the phone, they became engaged, without ever having been on a date or even kissed. It was a remarkable moment for both of them.

Two days later, on June 3rd, Ann Druyan went to the Bellevue Hospital, where she meditated for an hour on her love for Carl. The doctors recorded her EEGs from this session and condensed it to a minute-long audio file to be included in the Golden Record. The recording sounded like firecrackers. It was the sound of a woman who had just fallen in love.

Golden Record (Ann's Brain Waves, 550px)
A portion of Ann Druyan’s brain waves from the session at Bellevue Hospital.

At the completion of the Golden Record, there were 115 images and a large variety of sounds that represented humanity. On September 5th, 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 were launched into space.

On August 25th, 2012, Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause, which is space in our solar system that is affected by solar wind, and made history as the first spacecraft to do so. At that time it was launched into the interstellar medium.

Fichier:Voyager 1 skypath 1977-2030.png
Fichier: Voyager 1 skypath 1977-2030

This record could quite possibly outlive humanity. It will be at least another 40,000 years in deep space before it will come in contact with another planetary system. However, the fact that it’s out there, ensures that humanity will live on.

2 comments on “Carl Sagan, The Golden Record, and Eternal Love

  1. Nyctophile

    Isn’t it the same thing as morse code?


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