Which parts of human culture do you think deserve to be sent out into space for possible alien contact?
Let’s assume for a minute that NASA is building a new Voyager probe that would carry exemplars of modern human culture out into space. What do we think would deserve to be in there?
Let me think… the last time they did this, there was something like a gold record in there, a method of translating language, a representation of pi, diagrams of male and female anatomy, sound recordings – I can’t quite remember, I might be getting this cross-confused with the movie Contact; but this is the kind of stuff that people would look to send this time, right?
I think that if we want off-world intelligent life to know that we are an intelligent species that we should send stuff that exemplifies our intelligence. For example, we could send novels, reference books so that they can understand what the Earth is like, sudoku books, audio recordings of Discovery Channel podcasts, documentaries about problems that we’re having now… stuff like that. Let our intelligent people do the talking for us, and give the aliens something to work out – namely, our languages. Send stuff in German, in French, in Spanish and English and Swahili and Mandarin and Arabic. Send along language dictionaries to serve as a Rosetta Stone so that they can cross-reference. Because if we give them our home address and they decide to come here, we want them to be able to communicate with us, right? If for no other reason than to understand our pleas for mercy and to not shoot us with their ray guns.
Honestly, I don’t think I’m qualified answer this question; but if I could pick a song it would be Pink Floyd’s Learning to Fly. if I could pick a novel, it would be Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. if I could pick a nonfiction book it would be Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States.
We could be honest about what really drives our culture and send a Sears catalogue; do they still print those? Or maybe we should just stuff it full of beanie babies. But seriously – I think it would be a waste of time, money, and effort to send another Voyager probe – they would be better spent on things like asteroid mining, manufacturing in space, and colonization of other worlds. We’re getting close to having those abilities, and we should probably focus on that; that is the kind of thing that is going to pay off in the foreseeable future.
Besides, everything we would want to send them would probably fit on an iPad. If my 16-month-old daughter can figure that out, surely intelligent aliens could do so.
What do you think? What would be a more worthwhile expenditure than building a new Voyager probe?
This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.
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