In 1977 the Voyager spacecraft were launched on a mission to explore the outer planets of the solar system. As of June, 2012, NASA scientists report that the Voyager 1 spacecraft may be the first man made object to leave the solar system. Onboard these craft is a golden record containing encoded images and sounds of the planet earth and its inhabitants. Curated by Carl Sagan, these selections were meant as an optimistic symbol of humans’ attempt to reach out to other intelligent beings in the universe. The portion of the program entitled ‘The Sounds of Earth’ is an audio tour of human evolution from primordial biology to contemporary (1970’s) spacefaring civilization. A list of sounds found therein is as follows:

Music of The Spheres
Volcanoes, Earthquake, Thunder
Mud Pots
Wind, Rain, Surf
Crickets, Frogs
Birds, Hyena, Elephant
Wild Dog
Footsteps, Heartbeat, Laughter
Fire, Speech
The First Tools
Tame Dog
Herding Sheep, Blacksmith, Sawing
Tractor, Riveter
More Code, Ships
Horse and Cart
F-111 Flyby, Saturn 5 Lift-off
Kiss, Mother and Child
Life Signs, Pulsar

In the video ‘The Sounds of Earth’ this audio program is presented unadulterated alongside a visual representation derived analytically from the sounds. Presented as an abstract light pattern emanating from a central source, the viewer is invited to imagine how an alien intelligence may be challenged to make sense of our attempts at communication.

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