Bon voyage

NASA recently announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has moved into interstellar space. This journey has taken forty years and that is merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to the time it would take to actually get somewhere tangible beyond our solar system. People that know these things say in about 300 years it will reach the Oort cloud (which is apparently an icy shelf just beyond the reach of our solar system, but of course since no one has actually been there, there is no proof of icy-ness or shelfage-ness that I can accurately report) and then spend a leisurely 40,000 years to only get within 1.6 light years of star Gliese 445, which is at present in the constellation Camelopardalis but has a nasty habit of moving around so may not even be in the neighbourhood once Voyager 1 finally gets within hailing distance.

But although its itinerary is interesting, Voyager’s travelogue is not our topic for today. Our subject of interest is the gold record it carries with messages for the Camelopardians. This record is state of the art for 1977, which was unfortunately before CDs, DVDs and USB drives existed.

Unfortunate because whoever intercepts it will think we are still stuck in the analog era (although at least it carries a message from President Carter not President Trump, who probably would not have provided a message because the Donald doesn’t believe in the universe or thinks he is the universe), and also unfortunate because of the storage limitations of the record which meant substantial triage was required to determine what to put on it. So they ended up with some photos and sounds of our environment (likely a bit of false advertising at this point), some greetings in 55 different languages (likely very confusing to any alien since according to Star Trek they all speak only one language per planet), and some music including Mozart and Chuck Berry (likely also very perplexing, especially the Chuck Berry part since there were all kinds of other options available in 1977 including a little band called the Beatles).

Anyhow, it would be an interesting exercise to decide what would go on the record substitute if Voyager was starting out today. Here is my vote:

1. Episodes from the Walking Dead. That would prevent any aliens with bad intentions from messing with us, because either way, the zombies or the zombie apocalypse would make them wait until we had annihilated ourselves completely before swooping in to take over the little blue planet.

2. On second thought, a message from Donald Trump would be a good idea if we wanted to keep random outer space creatures away.

3. And if we are being more positive, I think we should load that sucker up with Van Morrison, Coldplay, Blue Rodeo, Ella Fitzgerald, K.D. Lang, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and Elvis Costello. Just sayin’