It has recently come to our attention—and it may be news to others—that the Golden Record created to accompany the Voyager space probe missions with the potential of bringing the sounds of Earth to alien auditory organs, is available for any terrestrial human listener equipped with a phonograph. (The ETs were expected to reinvent that particular wheel.) The recording has been available commercially on Earth since 2017.
The probes were launched nearly 45 years ago each with a 12-inch, gold-plated copper disk designed to endure a billion years of space travel. The project to bring this anthology of Earth sounds to Earth listeners was the focus of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign launched five years ago. With seed funding, OZMA Records issued the recordings in a box set that is still available on their website ozmarecords.com for $98, though prices on other sites vary.
The Voyager Interstellar Record was compiled by a team led by Carl Sagan, and produced by science journalist Timothy Ferris, who contributed an essay to the accompanying book. The set includes the book with two CDs of all the audio content and all the images that were encoded in analog on the record, scanned from a set of original slides. Also included are images beamed back to Earth by the Voyager probes.
According to the OZMA Records website, “The Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music from myriad peoples and eras, from Bach and Beethoven to Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry, Benin percussion to Solomon Island panpipes. Natural sounds—birds, a train, a baby’s cry, a kiss—are collaged into a lovely audio poem called ‘Sounds of Earth.’ There are spoken greetings in dozens of human languages—and one whale language—and more than 100 images encoded in analog that depict who, and what, we are.
“We may never know whether an extraterrestrial civilization ever listens to the golden record. It was a gift from humanity to the cosmos. But it is also a gift to humanity. The record embodies a sense of possibility and hope.”
Readers of The Syncopated Times will be gratified to know that Louis Armstrong made the interstellar cut with his Hot Seven recording of “Melancholy Blues.”