On Adam Savage's Tested: "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and the Voyager Golden Record

In 1979, the USS Enterprise flew onto the big screen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Without giving away too much of the plot, NASA's Voyager program that began in 1977 featured prominently in the film. Of course, the real twin Voyager probes carry the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials that my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set.

While the Voyager Record isn't mentioned in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I was still delighted when my old pal Ariel Waldman invited me on to her wonderful talk show Offworld, on Adam Savage's Tested channel, to talk about Voyager, the Golden Record, and the heady, awkward, and pretty great Star Trek: The Motion Picture! Even more exciting is that the other guest was Frank Drake, father of the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the technical director of the original Voyager Golden Record! Far out.

The Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Vinyl Box Set and 2xCD-Book edition is available from Ozma Records.

Below: Frank and I scrying with his original copy of the Voyager Record cover.

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How a Bell Labs engineer/artist created the sounds of planetary orbits for the Voyager Golden Record

During the 1960s and 1970s at Bell Labs, the intersection of science and art was rightfully recognized as an extremely fertile ground for creative and technological experimentation. New York City's avant-garde artists collaborated with Bell Labs engineers to develop new tools, technologies, and creative practices that continue to shape our digital world today. It was in Bell Labs' hotbed of digital creativity where composer and software engineer Laurie Spiegel helped make the future of electronic music. Waveshaper TV produced a multi-part interview with Spiegel whose seminal works, including The Expanding Universe, are available in stunning editions from the Unseen Worlds label.

I was particularly excited about Part 2 of the interview with Spiegel, released today and seen above, because it focuses on how she came to contribute an audio manifestation of "Kepler's Harmony of the Worlds" ("Music of the Spheres") to the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials attached to the Voyager I and II space probes launched in 1977. 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 to Blind Willie Johnson to Chuck Berry, Benin percussion to Solomon Island panpipes. A short segment of Spiegel's "Music of the Spheres" opens the Voyager Record's "Sounds of Earth" segment, a collage of dozens of recordings that represent our planet, from birds and chimpanzees to thunder, a baby's cry, laughter, and a kiss.

Two years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set. Read the rest

Why Mozart's The Magic Flute is on the Voyager Golden Record

Aria Code is WQXR and Met Opera’s captivating podcast that deconstructs famous arias. Believe me, even if you don't know anything about opera, or think you "don't like it," Aria Code is a fascinating way in. This week, they delve into Mozart's Queen of the Night, "the rage-fest" from The Magic Flute. This is a special episode for me because this aria was included on the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials attached to the Voyager I and II space probes launched in 1977. 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 to Blind Willie Johnson to Chuck Berry, Benin percussion to Solomon Island panpipes to, yes, Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Two years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set. Our project's resonance with the public, and the Grammy that we were honored to receive for it, are really a testament to the majesty of the original record. It's a stunning compilation that stands the test of time (and space).

Science and philosophy writer Timothy Ferris was the producer of the original Voyager Record. I was delighted to hear him on this episode of Aria Code explaining why the "Queen of the Night" made the cut and is now hurling through interstellar space.

"Mozart is an interesting composer from a mathematical standpoint," Tim says. Read the rest

Voyager 2 has entered interstellar space!

NASA's Voyager 2 space probe has officially left our solar system and entered interstellar space. Now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth, the spacecraft has crossed the boundary of the bubble-like heliosphere around the planets and is no longer touched by the plasma wind from our sun. Voyager 2's twin Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in 2012 and continues to send back valuable scientific data via the Deep Space Network.

From NASA:

“I think we’re all happy and relieved that the Voyager probes have both operated long enough to make it past this milestone,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “This is what we've all been waiting for. Now we’re looking forward to what we’ll be able to learn from having both probes outside the heliopause.”

Voyager 2 launched in 1977, 16 days before Voyager 1, and both have traveled well beyond their original destinations. The spacecraft were built to last five years and conduct close-up studies of Jupiter and Saturn. However, as the mission continued, additional flybys of the two outermost giant planets, Uranus and Neptune, proved possible. As the spacecraft flew across the solar system, remote-control reprogramming was used to endow the Voyagers with greater capabilities than they possessed when they left Earth. Their two-planet mission became a four-planet mission. Their five-year lifespans have stretched to 41 years, making Voyager 2 NASA’s longest running mission.

The Voyager story has impacted not only generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth's culture, including film, art and music.

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Save 20% on the Voyager Golden Record 2xCD/Book edition

Last year, my friends Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad and I released the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl for the first time ever and were blown away to win a Grammy Award for the box set. It's really a testament to the creators of the original Voyager Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials launched by NASA in 1977. We were honored to have had the opportunity to bring this stellar artifact to a wider terrestrial audience.

For those who still prefer compact discs, we also published the Voyager Golden Record 2xCD/Book edition! Two audio CDs containing all of the Voyager Golden Record music and sounds are tucked inside a full-color 96-page hardcover book (12” x 12”) featuring all images included on the original Voyager Record, gallery of images transmitted back from the Voyager probes, and an essay by Timothy Ferris, producer of the original Voyager Record.

Today, we're offering 20% off the elegant Voyager Golden Record 2xCD/Book edition. It's a gift sure to spark the imagination.

The sale ends tonight, November 26, at 11:59pm PST.

We also have limited numbers of the Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Box Set, diagram pins, gold foil art prints, and turntable slipmats. Please order by December 9 for delivery in time for Christmas.

Ad astra!

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Happy anniversary, Voyager 1 and the Voyager Golden Record!

On this day in 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1 on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. (It followed the launch of Voyager 2 a few weeks earlier.)

Attached to each of these probes is a beautiful golden record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it. This enchanting artifact, officially called the Voyager Interstellar Record, may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever.

Curated by a committee led by Carl Sagan, 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.

Two years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released the Voyager Record to the public on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set. Our project's resonance with the public, and the Grammy that we were honored to receive for it, are really a testament to the majesty of the original record and the entire Voyager mission. As the original Golden Record's producer, Timothy Ferris, wrote in the liner notes for our box set, the Voyagers are on a journey not just through space but also through time. Read the rest

Voyager Golden Record featured in V&A Museum exhibition about the future

This weekend is the opening of "The Future Starts Here," a new exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum of art and design. Celebrating "100 projects shaping the world of tomorrow," the exhibit features several objects that began as Kickstarter projects, including the "Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition" the Grammy-winning 3xLP vinyl box set that I co-produced with my friends Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad. Our project was the first vinyl release of the iconic phonograph record launched into space by NASA in 1977 as a message for extraterrestrials, perhaps billions of years from now.

The Voyager Golden Record is an artifact for the future. As Tim Ferris, who produced the original Voyager Record, wrote in our liner notes, the Voyagers are on a journey not just through space but also through time. The Voyager Record is a time capsule but it is also timeless. It sparks the imagination. It provokes us to think about the future and our civilization's place in it. It exudes a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. And it lies at the intersection of science, art, and design to spark the imagination.

When Lawrence first began designing our "Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition," he said: "The original Voyager Golden Record is the ultimate album package. I want to design the ultimate album package of the ultimate album package."

We're deeply honored to be included in the exhibit! I'm also thrilled that my Institute for the Future colleague Sam Woolley's provocative "Political Bots" exhibit is also part of The Future Starts Here, which runs at the V&A Museum until November 4. Read the rest

Thursday 4/5 at San Francisco's Cal Academy of Sciences: Space Age NightLife with the Voyager Golden Record

Please join me this Thursday evening April 5 at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences NightLife event celebrating the Space Age! At 8:30pm, I'll be speaking about the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials launched into space that my friends Tim Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released on vinyl for the first time here on Earth. I'm honored to be joined in conversation by my friend and mentor Timothy Ferris, the bestselling science author who produced the original Voyager Record back in 1977.

There's a stellar lineup of other presenters and happenings at the museum that night too: NASA astronaut Ed Lu, a workshop with the Vintage Synthesizer Museum, a panel on NASA computing technology, space-themed pinball machines, Vetiver's Andy Cabic and DJ Daniel T on the turntables, plenty of far-out art, and much more. I hope to see you there: California Academy of Sciences NightLife: Space Age

The Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Vinyl Box Set and 2xCD-Book edition will be for sale at the event and also available from OzmaRecords.com.

Here's an audio sampler:

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SF Bay Area on Thursday: Meet Frank Drake, the father of SETI, at Institute for the Future's "Voyager Record" celebration!

A reminder that this Thursday (3/22), Institute for the Future, the nonprofit thinktank where I'm a researcher, is hosting an event celebrating the Voyager Golden Record at our Palo Alto, California offices/gallery! Joining me in conversation will be legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence and technical director of the original Voyager Record in 1977. Tickets are $10 and RSVP is required: "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" I hope to see you there!

Image above: Frank and I scrying with the Voyager Record cover.

Here's the full announcement...

IFTF's The Future Presents... "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30pm 201 Hamilton Ave. Palo Alto, CA RSVP is required.

Please join Institute for the Future for a reception celebrating the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials, launched into space by NASA in 1977 and released on vinyl for the first time in the 2017 Grammy-winning boxed set, “Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition,” created by IFTF researcher David Pescovitz, Timothy Daly, and Lawrence Azerrad. At this special event, Pescovitz, also a co-editor of Boing Boing, will be host a conversation with legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and technical director of the original Voyager Record.

Forty years ago, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space.

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San Francisco: Voyager Golden Record event at Tunnel Records this Saturday

This Saturday (3/10) from 5pm-7pm, my friends at San Francisco's Tunnel Records + Beach Goods are kindly hosting a Voyager Golden Record Party with complimentary beverages! I'll be there to talk about the iconic message for extraterrestrials launched into space on a phonograph record 40 years ago. My friends Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad and I co-produced the first ever vinyl release of the Voyager Record this year and we were honored with a 2018 Grammy award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.

Tunnel Records will have the Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Box Sets and 2xCD-Book edition available for sale. Can't make it? You can also order directly from our label Ozma Records. Read the rest

Silicon Valley: Voyager Golden Record celebration at Institute for the Future, March 22

On March 22, Institute for the Future, the nonprofit thinktank where I'm a researcher, is hosting an event celebrating the Voyager Golden Record at our Palo Alto, California offices/gallery! Joining me in conversation will be legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence and technical director of the original Voyager Record in 1977. Tickets are $10 and RSVP is required: "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" I hope to see you there! Here's the full announcement...

IFTF's The Future Presents... "The Voyager Golden Record: Celebrating a Journey Through Space and Time" Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30 to 7:30pm 201 Hamilton Ave. Palo Alto, CA RSVP is required.

Please join Institute for the Future for a reception celebrating the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials, launched into space by NASA in 1977 and released on vinyl for the first time in the 2017 Grammy-winning boxed set, “Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition,” created by IFTF researcher David Pescovitz, Timothy Daly, and Lawrence Azerrad. At this special event, Pescovitz, also a co-editor of Boing Boing, will be host a conversation with legendary astronomer Frank Drake, the father of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and technical director of the original Voyager Record.

Forty years ago, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a golden phonograph record containing Earth's greatest music from myriad peoples and eras, natural sounds, spoken greetings in dozens of human languages, and more than 100 encoded images that depict who, and what, we are.

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Magnificent online experience inspired by the Voyager Golden Record supports SETI, Carl Sagan Institute, Astronomers Without Borders

Stephen Canfield and his colleagues at WeTransfer curated a stunning online experience inspired by the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials launched into space on a phonograph record 40 years ago. My friends Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad and I co-produced the first ever vinyl release of the Voyager Record this year and we were honored to help with WeTransfer's effort, titled A Message from Earth.

A Message To Earth includes newly-commissioned images, art, sound, and words from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Wanda Díaz Merced, Aspen Matis, S U R V I V E, Lawrence Krauss, Fatima Al Qadiri, and Oneohtrix Point Never. It's a beautiful, non-linear exhibition of creative work that embodies the sense of hope, optimism, and goodwill instilled by the original Voyager Record.

The exhibition's intention is to relay a message of goodwill and encourage further exploration while raising awareness and funding for Astronomers without Borders, the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, and the SETI Institute. WeTransfer is providing $10,000 grants to each institution to initiate public donations, and the project will be commemorated in a $15 limited edition zine with 100% of generated revenues going to the non-profits above.

Far out.

Here are the contents of A Message From Earth:

Preface: A comic of illustrations by Sophy Hollington telling the story and brief history of the original Golden Record.

1. Greetings: Wanda Díaz Merced, a blind astronomer who uses sonification to study interstellar events, presents a study of stars as heard on earth - with a selection of images curated by NASA's Rebecca Roth.

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Erik Davis's Expanding Mind podcast: the Voyager Record, Institute for the Future, and optimism

I was honored to be yesterday's guest on my favorite interview podcast, Erik Davis's Expanding Mind. Erik and I have been friends since the cyberdelic early 1990s. He is a brilliant head and prolific writer who explores the cultures of consciousness with rigor, wit, and genuine curiosity. On the podcast, Erik and I had a freewheeling conversation about the Voyager Golden Record vinyl release that I co-produced with Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, my work at the Institute for the Future, and the intersection of science, art, and magic to spark the imagination. Have a listen:

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The Voyager Golden Record on "All Things Considered"

NPR's All Things Considered aired a wonderful piece about the Voyager Golden Record's first-ever vinyl release that I co-produced with my friends Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad. Listen to Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi's report here:

Last week, (the original Voyager Golden Record's producer Timothy) Ferris got his box set in the mail. He says that his friend, the late Carl Sagan, would be delighted by what they made.

"I think this record exceeds Carl's — not only his expectations, but probably his highest hopes for a release of the Voyager record," Ferris says. "I'm glad these folks were finally able to make it happen."

Pescovitz says he's just glad to have returned the Golden Record to the world that created it.

At a moment of political division and media oversaturation, Pescovitz and Daly say they hope that their Golden Record can offer a chance for people to slow down for a moment; to gather around the turntable and bask in the crackly sounds of what Sagan called the "pale blue dot" that we call home.

"As much as it was a gift from humanity to the cosmos, it was really a gift to humanity as well," Pescovitz says. "It's a reminder of what we can accomplish when we're at our best."

"The Voyager Golden Record Finally Finds An Earthly Audience" (NPR)

The Voyager Golden Record is now available for pre-order on vinyl or CD from Ozma Records. Read the rest

Pasadena 9/28: Voyager Golden Record panel with Ann Druyan, Reggie Watts, Lynda Obst, Ed Stone, and David Pescovitz

I'm honored to be included on a free panel discussion next Thursday, 9/28, at Caltech about the cultural influence of the Voyager Golden Record, the enchanting phonograph record launched into space on the twin Voyager spacecraft 40 years ago. (I co-produced the first vinyl release of the Golden Record with my friends Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad.) I'm incredibly excited to share the stage with the following inspiring individuals:

• Ann Druyan: Creative director of the Voyager interstellar message; writer, producer, and director of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

• Reggie Watts: Vocal artist, musician, comedian, and technologist

• Lynda Obst: Bestselling author, producer of Interstellar, Contact, Sleepless in Seattle, and many other films

• Ed Stone: Voyager project scientist; David Morrisroe Professor of Physics, and Vice Provost for Special Projects, Caltech

KCRW radio's music director, Jason Bentley, will moderate the discussion. Doors are 6:45pm and while it's free, reservations are required. Contact the Caltech Ticket Office by calling (626) 395-4652 to grab tickets. More details here. I hope to see you there!

Special thanks to Dan Goods of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for organizing this event!

The Voyager Golden Record is now available as a vinyl box set and CD/book package from Ozma Records.

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How to decode the images on the Voyager Golden Record

Editor's note: Forty years ago today, NASA launched Voyager 1, the second of two spacecraft on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each spacecraft is a Golden Record containing Earth's greatest music, spoken greetings, "Sounds of Earth," and more than 100 images encoded as audio signals, a technological feat at the time. Technical director Frank Drake had always planned to encode the photos in the audio spectrum for the record. The challenge was finding technology capable of the task. While flipping through an electronics catalog, Valentin Boriakoff, Drake’s colleague at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, stumbled upon Colorado Video, a small television equipment firm in Boulder that had built a unique device for encoding television images as audio signals that could be transmitted over telephone lines. Donating their time and expertise to the project, engineers at Colorado Video projected each Voyager slide onto a television camera lens, generating a signal that their machine converted into several seconds of sound per photo. A diagram on the aluminum cover of the Golden Record explains how to play it and decode the images. Four decades later, Ron Barry followed the instructions.

How I decoded the images on the Voyager Golden Record

The video above is a decoding of more than 100 images that were packed into the audio channels of a record that was placed on each of the Voyager spacecraft. How does one pack data into audio? (Remember modems?) This article doesn’t answer that question directly, but it does attempt to reproduce the efforts an alien would go through to recover those images. Read the rest

Voyager's Golden Record still plays on

Boing Boing editor and partner David Pescovitz has an op-ed up at CNN about the Voyager probe's golden record. Even in the cold and distant darkness of space, this exemplar of human culture plays on.

It's a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth's greatest music from myriad peoples and eras, from Bach and Blind Willie Johnson to 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. A diagram on the aluminum cover of the record explains how to play it and where it came from.

As an objet d'art and design, the Voyager Record represents deep insights about communication, context, and the power of media. In the realm of science, it raises fundamental questions about our place in the universe.

Pesco helped Kickstart a re-issue of the disc; you can still get in line and pre-order one here. Read the rest

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