10/07/2016

Golden Record 2.0

26:41 minutes

Over the last three weeks, we’ve been celebrating the legacy of the Golden Record, which accompanied the Voyager spacecraft on their mission into interstellar space nearly 40 years ago. At the time, a small team of scientists and artists—including Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Frank Drake—collected the sounds and images they felt encapsulated our world, such as music by Mozart, a photo of a nursing mother, and the sound of a kiss.

But so much had to be left out of that original Golden Record. And a lot has changed about our culture and our history in the decades since. If a second Golden Record were to be sent into space today, what would it contain?

The gallery of our new user-submitted Golden Record site.
The gallery of our new user-submitted Golden Record site.

We asked listeners what they would choose to put on a Golden Record 2.0—and the results are in! Our guest judges—Brain Pickings founder Maria Popova, SETI astronomer Seth Shostak, and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson—join Ira to discuss their favorites. And you can see a curated top 30 list based on your suggestions at sciencefriday.com/goldenrecord.

Segment Guests

Maria Popova

Maria Popova is the editor and founder of BrainPickings.org and a MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. She is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Sci-Fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson is author of New York 2140 (Orbit, 2017), among others. He lives in Davis, California.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak is a senior astronomer and director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. He also hosts the SETI Institute’s Big Picture Science radio show.

Meet the Producer

About Katie Hiler

Katie Hiler is an assistant producer for Science Friday and the proud mother of two cats, Charleigh and Sadie.

  • Anonomis55

    Maybe we would violate the prime directive? By “sending more,” would we want to include how to make a nuclear bomb? How to cure cancer?

    • BC 60

      Agree. We should not assume that an otherworldly intelligent life could not be harmed by knowledge they might not be ready for.

  • Conrad Garcia

    I was under the impression that they were already here…..

  • Paul Personne

    These records are made to last for millennia, and it will take that long for them to reach any habitable world, so they could be a message to . . . US! Certainly Sci-Fi is full of futures where humans have forgotten their roots, and maybe a golden record would allow future humans to rediscover themselves.

  • Robert Thomas

    People greatly overestimate the universality of the way in which we in the Santa Clara Valley have chosen to microminiaturize electronic current signaling devices, using the latest FinFETs, and other clever techniques.

    Even a technologically advanced biological civilization is more likely to destroy a flash drive or any similar device long before figuring out what it is.

    The gold LP record is also a parochial medium but it’s much more likely to be recognized for its contents before being thrown away – or “re-purposed” – than is any silicon chip figured with 15nm 3D vertical NAND structures.

    Beyond the medium – which if I’m right, limits total information payload – I say, stick to music.

    Including the entire contents of the Library of Congress will be even less interesting to other organisms than will be one of those cryogenically frozen heads, when thawed out in the distant future. The latter will likely be seen to be more valuable as pet food than for the wisdom and vision of the former proprietor.

  • James Griffiths

    WHEN WE SEND SOMETHING OUT FOR POTENTIAL SPACE ALIEN SCRUTINY WE SHOULD NOT INCLUDE DAMNING INFORMATION ABOUT OUR SOCIETY. THEY JUST MIGHT DECIDE TO WIPE US OUT BECAUSE OF OUR VERY BAD DECISIONS.

  • David Myrow

    Including work on “Attachment Relationships” as a human “umbrella
    concept” on Golden Record 2.0 (i.e., Bowlby, the neurobiology of
    attachment development, and Theraplay® as a means to enhance and repair
    attachment relationships), speaks to the joys and sorrows of being
    human as well as our hope and resilience. Maybe the “receivers” could glean this human
    meaning-making. In concert with my wife, Sue Bundy-Myrow

  • Alfredo Tulipan

    Very interesting program. I like the suggestion of two items: 1) the internet news record of Apollo 13 and 2) the movie production. The history of mankind has been the history of storytelling. Perhaps some type of timeline from primitive man telling stories at the campfire to the Cave Paintings in Lascoux, France all the way to the Apollo 13 history vs movie communication.

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