Experience the Voyager Golden Record at San Francisco's Exploratorium, August 3

On August 3 in celebration of the 40th anniversary month of the Voyager interstellar mission, please join me at San Francisco's Exploratorium to experience the Voyager Golden Record with two of the brilliant minds behind it -- SETI pioneer Frank Drake and science writer Timothy Ferris.

In August and September 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and beyond, into the mysteries of interstellar space. Mounted to each spacecraft is a golden phonograph record, a message to introduce our civilization to extraterrestrials, perhaps billions of years from now. Ozma Records, the label I co-founded with my friend Timothy Daly, is releasing the Voyager Golden Record as a box set of vinyl LPs so those on Earth can hear it as it was meant to be played. The accompanying book contains all of the images encoded on the Voyager record, an original essay by Timothy Ferris, and a gallery of photos transmitted back from the probes. As our co-producer/designer Lawrence Azerrad has said, "It is the ultimate album package of the ultimate album package." (The limited edition super-deluxe Kickstarter edition will not be repressed but please keep an eye on our Twitter feed @ozmarecords for announcements from us in the next few weeks.)

At the Exploratorium's August 3 After Dark event, themed around "Our Place in Space," we'll play the Voyager Record on the museum's incredible Meyer Sound system while projecting the images encoded on the disc. Then, at 8pm, Frank Drake and Timothy Ferris will join me on stage to discuss this incredible artifact that was a gift from humanity to the cosmos, but also a gift to humanity. Read the rest

The Exploratorium's Sound Uncovered: A science museum in your hand (for free)

This review also appears on Download the Universe, a group blog reviewing the best (and worst, and just "meh") in science-related ebooks and apps.

When I go to science museums, I like to press the buttons. I'm convinced this is a special joy that you just do not grow out of. Hit the button. See something cool happen. Feel the little reward centers of your brain dance the watusi.

But, as a curmudgeonly grown-up, I also often feel like there is something missing from this experience. There have definitely been times when I've had my button-pushing fun and gotten a few yards away from the exhibit before I've had to stop and think, "Wait, did I just learn anything?"

Science museums are chaotic. They're loud. They're usually full of small children. Your brain is pulled in multiple directions by sights, sounds, and the knowledge that there are about 15 people behind you, all waiting for their turn to press the button, too. In fact, research has shown that adults often avoid science museums (and assume those places aren't "for them") precisely because of those factors. Sound Uncovered is an interactive ebook published by The Exploratorium, the granddaddy of modern science museums. Really more of an app, it's a series of 12 modules that allow you to play with auditory illusions and unfamiliar sounds as you learn about how the human brain interprets what it hears, and how those ear-brain interactions are used for everything from selling cars to making music. Read the rest