Sunday, September 15, 2013

Voyager One and Our Message to the Aliens

It's amazing to think that this little toy that we earthlings made is now sailing out of our solar system.

The tireless Voyager I spacecraft, launched in the disco era and now more than 11 billion miles from Earth, has become the first man-made object to enter interstellar space, scientists said Thursday. Interstellar space, scientists now know with certainty, is dense with particles, and the place is literally hissing. Or maybe you could say it’s whistling in the dark.

And even more amazing to wonder what might happen if it ever encountered an alien civilization. And they heard the message we sent them.

The so-called Golden Record. 

The Voyager probes are technically unmanned; in another sense, however, they carry all of humanity with them as they speed through space. Each craft bears an object that is, in every way, a record -- of Earth, of humanity, of humanity's drive to reach and strive and dream and connect.

Because although it's a wonderful attempt by the great Carl Sagan and others to encapsulate the human experience and communicate it to others. 

The Golden Records carry more than (English) words. They carry our culture. They carry the transcendent aspects of human existence: the art, the beauty, the ache, the joy. They offer what we have, and what we are, up to the cosmos -- and up to anyone who might call the same space home.

It was made in the mid-seventies eh?

And I fear it might give the aliens a distorted view of who we really are...

Making them think we're a peaceful groovy civilization, if somewhat primitive.

Instead of an incredibly aggressive colony of violent apes, with highly advanced ways of killing each other on a mass scale, who are poisoning and torching the very planet they live on.

And I'm worried that if the aliens are fooled and decide to visit us only to discover the ugly truth, they may react badly. Very badly.

And do to the whole world what the Con aliens did to us when they invaded Canada...

But then when I took a closer look at the Golden Record.

And examined its music collection. I think I found something that might save the world.

No, not the Pygmy girls intiation song, or Mozart's Magic Flute, or the Mariachi band.

The song Dark was the Night by Blind Willie Johnson...

Because his life does sum up so much of the human experience for so many. 

He was born into misery. He was blinded as a boy when his stepmother threw lye in his face, after fighting with his father. He was poor all his life. He died after living in the burned out ruins of his house and contracting malaria. The hospital refused to treat him because he was blind and/or black. And nobody knows where he's buried.

But when he was alive he sounded like this...

Or this.

And just like no human could fail to recognize the sound of suffering. No alien could fail to understand its message either.

Fail to understand the horror of what we are doing to each other, and stay as far away from us as possible.

Or maybe they'll feel sorry for us. And be moved by Jimmy Carter's words:

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."

Yes, that's it eh?

Go forth bravely little space explorer, tell them our tragic story.

Tell them how we dreamed of peace. Tell them how we wanted to survive.

Play Dark Was the Night, long after we are gone...

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