Carl Sagan’s Voyager Golden Record — of sounds of Earth, recorded greetings and an eclectic mix of music that was sent into space — has long been out of print and pretty much unobtainable for decades.
One copy of the record is attached to NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, which has entered interstellar space, the farthest artifact ever tossed out by humanity. A second copy, on Voyager 2, is not quite as distant, just 10 billion miles away.
Both are receding from Earth at more than 35,000 miles per hour.
Not even Dr. Sagan, the Cornell astrophysicist who led the creation of the record in 1977 for the listening pleasure of any aliens who happened upon it, could get a copy.
He asked. NASA said no.
But now, a Kickstarter crowdfunding project begun on Wednesday is planning to reissue it, long a dream of David Pescovitz, an editor and managing partner at Boing Boing, the technology news website, and a research director at the nonprofit Institute for the Future.
“When you’re 7 years old, and you hear about a group of people creating messages for possible extraterrestrial intelligence,” Mr. Pescovitz said, “that sparks the imagination. The idea always stuck with me.”
He teamed up with Timothy Daly, a manager at Amoeba Music in San Francisco, and Lawrence Azerrad, a graphic designer who has created packaging for Sting, The Beach Boys, Wilco and other musicians.
The reissue will not exactly be like the original, which was pressed out of a gold-plated copper disk. The original was also intended to be played at 16 2/3 revolutions per minute, half of the usual speed of LP records. That was necessary to cram in a variety of sounds of Earth, spoken greetings in 55 languages, 116 images and 90 minutes of music.
The reissue will consist of three LPs pressed out of vinyl recorded at normal LP speed. The box set will cost $98 plus shipping, with the project aiming to raise $198,000. For the MP3 generation — or anyone without a phonograph — digital downloads are available for $25.
Mr. Pescovitz aims to distribute the records next year in time for the 40th anniversary of the Voyager launches. (Voyager 2 launched first, on Aug. 20, 1977; Voyager 1 launched a couple of weeks later, on Sept. 5.)
Perhaps now the recording, meant to encapsulate thousands of years of music, will finally find an audience. The songs include a Peruvian wedding song, a Pygmy girls’ initiation song, a movement from one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, and “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry.
“Isn’t it funny?” recalled Timothy Ferris, a science writer who produced the original record. “It hasn’t been heard by any aliens yet, and it hasn’t hardly been heard by humans.”
A CD-ROM version was issued in 1992, and NASA has since put digital versions of the greetings and sounds of Earth — but not the music — on SoundCloud. But this is the first time it will be available as an LP.
“For us, it’s creating a physical, tangible object,” Mr. Pescovitz said.
Mr. Ferris said the song selections were done by consensus, although Dr. Sagan, who died in 1996, did not like “Johnny B. Goode” at first. Alan Lomax, a folk music archivist who was another volunteer member of the committee selecting material for the Voyager records, also disliked the song and complained to Dr. Sagan that it was adolescent.
Mr. Ferris recalled Sagan’s response: “Well, there are a lot of adolescents on Earth, too.” The song went on the record.
But Mr. Ferris added, “You can’t take it too far or you’d be doing Miley Cyrus.”
A dozen copies of the golden record were made. Afterward, Dr. Sagan wrote to NASA, asking if he and John Casani, the project manager for Voyager, could obtain copies as mementos.
Robert A. Frosch, the NASA administrator, replied that all of the copies had been distributed to various institutions, mostly NASA centers, except for one copy reserved for President Jimmy Carter.
Today, it is not easy to get a glimpse of a copy. The aluminum cover can be seen at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, but the record itself is not on display. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the NASA center that operates the continuing Voyager missions, has its copy of the record on display in a case in an auditorium that is open to the public, at least during public lectures.
Quelle: THE NEW YORK TIMES