Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Golden Record

30 years ago today, the efforts of a collection of humans sent something fantastic into space, which continues to travel through the stars.
Voyager and it's Golden Record stand as a marvel of human achievement.
"The record represented the idea that science and technology could come together with art,” said Ann Druyan, who also designed the sound essay.. “It’s one of the few totally great stories that we have about humans. It cost the taxpayers virtually nothing, nobody got killed. It was a way to celebrate the glory of being alive on this tiny blue dot in 1977."

“This was the most romantic and beautiful project ever attempted by NASA. It had the sounds of a kiss, a mother saying hello to her newborn baby for the first time, all that glorious music. Remember, this was during the Cold War. Everyone was living with the knowledge that 50,000 nuclear weapons could go off at any time, and there was a lot of angst about the future. This was something positive -- a way to represent Earth and put our best foot forward. That was irresistible.”

Carl Sagan’s son Nick was six years old in 1977 when the Voyager records were being assembled. The records feature a recording of him as a child saying, “Hello from the children of planet Earth.”

“I had no sense of the magnitude of it at the time,” said Nick Sagan, who partially followed in his late father’s footsteps by pursuing a career as a science fiction writer. “Literally it was my parents putting me in front of a microphone and saying, ‘What would you say to extraterrestrials?’”

Sagan said he began to realize what the record meant as he got older, and as a teen he started to realize what a “strange but wonderful honor” it was.

“It’s been a challenge for the rest of my life to live up to that honor. It’s always there in my subconscious,” he said. “My dad inspired so many people to do so many great things -- to not take things at face value and to look at evidence to search for the truth. It’s something that I look to as a beacon.”


  1. Ooo! Radio Lab (a show on WNYC) has a show on Space that opens with Ann Druyan talking about herself and Sagan and the Golden Record. It's quite moving. You can listen to it online or download it as an Mp3.

  2. I was always fascinated by the Pioneer plaque since I saw it launch when I was a kid.

  3. In one of my very, very minor claims to fame - I went to day care with the young Sagan when my dad was doing his PhD at Cornell. I don't remember him.