Last week, I explained that I was very interested in research on the Voyager Golden Record. After some deliberation and discussion with others, I'm now convinced that I'd like to focus on the topic of "cosmic messages in a bottle." Like my last blog post mentioned, the copies of this record contain a sampling of humanity, from a Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" to photos of a Soviet athlete at the 1972 Olympic Games. But it's been almost 40 years since the probes were launched. What would the next generation have to say about our world?
If you could send anything into space—a photo, a drawing, a video, a song, a short message—what would it be? Would you introduce yourself? Would you share something of cultural significance? Would you show a piece of history?
I think posing this question would be a great way to get others involved in the creation of this project, especially since society is creating more and more content (selfies, original music, blogs, tweets, etc.). Plus, most people would enjoy seeing their contributions in the show, I'd imagine.
I've also been pondering about what can be improved upon with regards to the record. Would it make sense to go digital? Could senses of smell, taste, and touch be represented, too? What other precautions could be taken to account for any unusual alien physiology? Some of these questions start to become very scientific, but it's helpful to bear these things in mind.
I also read an interesting article about the Voyager probes' power sources. Apparently Plutonium-238 is running in short supply in the United States. If future missions are to take place, the government might need to reauthorize the production of the powerful element. It certainly has me thinking about the logistics that would come with sending out another "message in a bottle" into interstellar space.
Going forward, I'd like to reach out to as many people as I can about the topic, both professional and unprofessional. I've already talked with a few friends and family members about the concept, but I need to start figuring out what people would contribute. I also intend to begin drafting my thesis proposal, which will help solidify my plans. There's a lot to do, but committing to an idea is certainly a big step forward.
And now for something completely different. Just recently, the Hubble Space Telescope just discovered a galaxy that looks like a smiley face: