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Posts Tagged ‘long playing record’

The Triumph of Vinyl

In 1977 we launched the Voyager 1 space probe to explore the solar system, and it is now the farthest man-made object from the Earth.  It’s almost 10 billion miles away at this point, and still functioning and transmitting data back to earth.  The radio signals take 14 hours to travel from Voyager to the Earth.  In about 6 years it will reach the heliopause, which is the boundary of the suns influence on the space around it.  Once it passes the heliopause, the probe will be in interstellar space.

Included on the probe is a message to anyone who may encounter the probe in the future.  The message is recorded on the state of the art medium of the day: a gold-anodized long playing record.

Voyager Golden Record

Voyager Golden Record

The record is meant to be played at 16 and 2/3 rpm, which sounds weird, but that is because it is not based on our time-keeping system, but on the fundemental transition of the hydrogen atom.

The record has a cover which includes instructions for playing it.  Apparently there is also a cartridge and stylus included on the probe.

Earlier, in 1972 and 1973, we launched the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 probes, which didn’t include a record, but only a plaque showing what humans look like and where the Earth is located.  Some stupid people were upset that the plaque showed naked humans.  I say thank God they were naked.  Who knows what they would have been shown wearing in 1972.  Bell-bottoms?  Leisure suits?  Oy!

Pioneer plaque

Pioneer plaque

So we’ve basically shown the aliens where we are and what we look like.  Better hope they’re freindly.  And not hungry and looking for meat.