In 1977 a disc was placed in the Voyager spacecraft that aimed to capture the splendour, breadth and beauty of life on earth. The hope was – or is – that should extraterrestrial life ever discover this tiny vessel, they would have some insight into the planet that had sent it forward.
The disc contained “115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, and thunder, and animal sounds, including the songs of birds and whales.” To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings in fifty-five languages.
The music included such luminaries as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Blind Willie Johnson and Louis Armstrong.
Despite the slightly western bias, not a bad effort.
Now, 31 years later, another disc has been flung out into the universe. From the Ukraine. Not a nation known for space exploration, or particularly good taste in…err, anything. Should a nation responsible for providing this act for Eurovision be put in charge of intergalactic communications?
Problem number two: the submissions for the disc were collected in a competition run by social networking site Bebo. Now, I’m on Facebook, but the fact that I can write a status update about being stuck at an airport does not qualify me to compose intergalactic fan mail. Yet 500 submissions were accepted from Bebo users.
What do you think the submissions included?
- Instead of Beethoven, how about: “Can you add me?”
- Forget Louis Armstrong, how about: “Hi, I think we met at your sister’s birthday party – I’m her friend Bree – how’s it going?”
- Move aside whale sounds, try this on: “OMG, I was SOOOO wasted last night!!! If anyone has my mobile phone, please let me know!”
- Bye bye Swahili greeting, hello: “Ignore my last status update, my stupid EX-boyfriend was logged on as me.”
I wonder if any ads slipped through? “How to get awesome abs in 6 weeks!” or “How smart are you? Check your IQ NOW!”
Seth Shostak, SETI astronomer, said, “If anybody’s out there and they find that signal, they at least know it that… there must be a planet with some pretty clever things on it.”
Ya reckon? It could have been worse I suppose – they could have asked Myspace users. Or Monkeybizness.
Meanwhile North Korea has decided to send something different to our extraterrestrial neighbours: 10 missiles.