What possessed science to do this?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by dilloduck, May 15, 2006.

  1. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html
    Pioneers 10 and 11, which preceded Voyager, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future. With this example before them, NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2-a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim. Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form. The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect. Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music. Once the Voyager spacecraft leave the solar system (by 1990, both will be beyond the orbit of Pluto), they will find themselves in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system. As Carl Sagan has noted, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”
    Did they have some sort of superstition that some maybe be "out there". Faith maybe? :halo:
     
  2. Mr.Conley
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    Mr.Conley Senior Member

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    The images and recordings were placed on the spacecraft so that if any alien civilization should come across the probes, they would have some idea of who sent them. The civilization could follow the probes to their origin and these plates might give them some idea of who we are and, hopefully, allow for a peaceful encounter. If I recall, the designers of the probe also added the plates in light of the Cold War. They figured that, should anything have happened to end humanity here on Earth, these plates would be a sort of essence of who we are, what our ideals were, our sucesses, our failures, our hopes and dreams. The plates allowed this essence to escape our own destruction and continue on our existence and values. The plates would immortalized all of these things, make it solid. They would speak for the dead and represent what we had been. Hopefully, this unknown, alien society would understand and respect the plates and honor it as the final testament of a forgotten fellow traveler in the harsh depths of space. The plates weren't for science; they were a message from a man fearing death, sent out so that when it finally reached a reader, they would find a message laying bare the now dead sender, so that he would at least be remembered, that his ideas and impacts could outlast his demise. The plates were born out of idealism for a greater purpose, a sadness at a seemingly inescapable demise, a hope for the future, a yearning to be remembered and be part of something greater, something that would outlast us all. The hope was that when the finder visited the now barren, inhospitable remains of the Earth, they would remember what they had found and, instead of continuing on through the Cosmos, pay homage to what once was and what could have been, to mark a final resting place for humanity, to see our sorrow and remember our pain, and in that moment, even if it was only a moment, Dr. Sagan hoped that the memory of who we are would live on.
     
  3. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    So rocket scientists just let a "man fearing death" toss a few things onto a NASA project?
     
  4. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    Yes.
     
  5. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Why?
     
  6. bobn
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    bobn Member

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    why not? Why bother putting a flag on the moon?
     
  7. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    On what basis did science think that anyone would ever read what they sent?
     
  8. ErikViking
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    ErikViking VIP Member

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    Do you think they really thought that? Wasn't it just a message to the great unkown? A shot at the very remote chance that it might be read?
     
  9. Mr.Conley
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    Mr.Conley Senior Member

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    Correct. There is very little chance that an alien civilization will find any of the trailor sized probes in the vast infinite depths of space. But, at the time, the probes were our best hope of ever communicating with any other species. It was a sort of crapshot, but it was sent in the belief that there is other intelligent life in the universe, and that that life is worht contacting.
     
  10. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    I'm glad to see even science will admit to doing things that appear a bit supernatural.
     

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