Science says that aliens might not be able to play NASA’s Golden Record

The two most unattainable records in the universe are aboard the Voyager spacecraft, which are both flying beyond our solar system into the great void of the Milky Way. NASA’s Golden Records, curated by Carl Sagan, contains greetings to our future alien overlords along with sounds of Earth.

The technology is quite simple: Each is an old-school phonograph record designed to be rotated and played with a stylus or some other implement that will track in its grooves. There’s even a pictogram that tells Kang and Kodos how it all works.

But not so fast, says researchers. Maybe aliens will never figure out what we’re trying to do with these things.

Rebecca Orchard and Sheri Wells-Jensen at Bowling Green State University in Ohio say that the record’s 117 pictures, humpback whale sounds, greetings in 54 languages, 20-minute “sound essay” of life on Earth, and 90 minute romp through the planet’s music, is decidedly human-centric.

“The Golden Record is a beautiful artefact and representation of how humans want to see themselves, but it is meant to be received by and interpreted by something that has the sensory capabilities of the average human,” said Orchard. “If the second one of these senses is absent, or an entirely different sense is added, the Golden Record becomes a bit confusing.”

Oh? I suppose it’s too late to issue a recall, isn’t it? Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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