For example anyone might intuit that photographs are entirely self explanatory. Apparently though, among people who have never seen photos the concept has to be explained. What the group included is as interesting as what was not and the attendant reasons for each. NASA apparently objected to a photo of an man and pregnant woman, both nude. The intent was simply to show examples of the human species both sexes. They'd included information on reproduction and genetics but apparently NASA brass through the photo might draw the ire of prurient dimwits.
The picture is a simple black and white image, not in any way offensive or erotic but its rejection highlights the fear of bureaucrats who rely on public funds.
In any government endeavor even NASA one might expect inefficiency and bureaucracy but Sagan's quest to do some of the simplest and most innocuous things were repeatedly delayed or interfered with. He never complains specifically but the ignorance of some objections is breathtaking. He presents them without editorializing but I believe it's clear he was aghast at the cluelessness. Later in the book others give their accounts and justifications - it includes a level of detail I wasn't always interested it in.
For those that are it's included. I deducted one star for this reason - the graphics engraved on the surface of the disc and those encoded on the gold record are reproduced very poorly in this book - some look like crude drawings and the explanations for some of the images were hard to follow primarily because the drawings are small and almost primitive. At the time digital photography was non-existent so some images were 'digitally' reproduced as a bitmapped grid where each bit was either on or off.
Literally black or white - no shades of gray. In a grayscale photo each pixel might be range between 0 and typically so by contrast you can see these binary images were extremely simple in terms of detail.
The explanation of the intent of the author is hard to follow - hopefully the form of life discovering these can infer greater meaning. If you have an interest in space or cosmology you might want to give this a read. This was a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the ambitious efforts to send an "emissary to the stars" on both Voyager spacecraft successfully launched in Not since the Pioneer space probes launched in , had an attempt been made to send a message to be hopefully picked up by some future space-faring civilization.
But this was to be a far more ambitious effort, and "Murmurs of Earth" tells the intriguing story of this effort and its ultimate success. Being a Carl Sagan fan, I've read all but two of his books and his book collaborations - such as this one.
Since this was one I hadn't read, I bought it without really knowing what it was about. At first I was a bit disappointed that I'd bought a book that did not focus specifically on cosmology - but mostly on the details and logistics of creating and deploying something that was fastened to a space probe.
But after a short while, I became as fascinated and entertained with "Murmurs of Earth" as I was with any other Carl Sagan book or any other book on astrophysics or cosmology. From how they went about selecting the music, to the ingenious language they created, you get to see he collaborative efforts of many interesting characters on what is arguably the most unique project ever undertaken.
And, after all, it IS about cosmology, albeit from a different angle - but told with the same enthusiasm and drama. The Voyager "Golden Records" project was a triumph in teamwork - especially given their often unrealistic deadlines.
And it had some hilarious moments: Some of the 'greetings to alien civilizations' given by various heads of states had me laughing out loud! I fly out of the shop and race uptown to listen to it. I phone Brown and find myself saying thank you over and over.
Nearly every challenge was resolved in a similarly heartening way, but nowhere more so than when it came to the eternal see-saw of greed and altruism. When RCA realized that only one song from the final selections was recorded by RCA Victor, they refused to be of further help with producing the record. Sagan and his team had chosen the music without any reference to label or manufacturer, but realized many of the selections came from Columbia Records, so they reached out to the label for help.
After the greedy RCA letdown, a much-needed restoration of faith in the human spirit presented itself when the president of Columbia enthusiastically backed the project. Sagan writes with equal parts humor and humility:. It is not as easy as you might think to attract the attention of the president of a major competitive commercial record company on short notice for any enterprise, much less for volunteering corporate resources to send a record to the stars where, even if there are many potential listeners, no impact on corporate profits is likely to be made, at least in the near future.
But, eventually, CBS Records, entirely as a public service, secured all the releases, mixed the music, greetings and sounds, and cut the wax masters from which the metal mothers are made. Worldwide releases were obtained in an unprecedentedly brief time.
Since there was no way for CBS Records to increase corporate earnings from this project, their cooperation, although in some quarters reluctant, was on the whole truly remarkable. The next challenge was of the bureaucratic kind. In addition to the music, Sagan and his team had decided to include a simple greeting in spoken human language. Sagan had just given an address on space exploration at the UN General Assembly the previous year and had kept in touch with some members of the UN Outer Space Committee, so he used the connection to ask for the greetings.
This, in other words, is what happens when a government is a string of middle-managers and bureaucrats whom humanity is supposed to trust for representation. Other concerns were raised about what happens if a delegate is not in New York and further bureaucracy ensued. Sagan recounts with amused exasperation:. I explained that even if greetings from the Outer Space Committee were desirable, the launch schedule of Voyager would not permit such a dilatory pace. Could we not, I was then seriously queried, postpone the Voyager launch?
Eventually, they plowed forward with a selection of 55 languages not even remotely representative of Earth. Some read poetry from their home nation. But overall for the price I got it for , it was well worth the purchase! One will truly appreciate the thought process that went behind the content included on that Voyager mission. There used to be a copy of the Golden Record CD that was included with the book. The mp3 download is available in its place if you want to enjoy the full experience of owning the "full package" of both the book and the Golden Record.
One person found this helpful. Great seller. It looks like it came off the press yesterday. Thanks seller for giving me a chance to own a piece of history. I purchased this book on the day the report came out that Voyager had passed into Interstellar Space.
This is a huge moment in human history. It represents the very first time in our documented history We should always look to the future. No matter what is going on there is always hope.
See all reviews. Top reviews from other countries. Report abuse. Book is tatty. I was a young teenager in the 70's. I did not pay much attention to the Voyageur missions, at the time. I bought this book on a whim, based on a review on Brain Pickings, because I wanted to learn how they chose what went on the record.
I certainly learned things I never imagined, about the civilizations with whom we cohabit while reading about the selection of sounds, music and images. I did not expect the short story format of the book, which I do not normally like, and I was sorry to find there was no copy of the recorded music anywhere, commercially.
That is why I rated it 4 stars rather than 5. Wabakami of Northern Ontario, Canada. These were simpler times with high hopes of space exploration, what happened, where are the dreamers to get us out there? We need more of them in government. All encompassing Record of Voyagers missions. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U. Secretary General Waldheim.
There were parts of this book that were very interesting, but other parts that were not interesting to me or I thought they would be, but found the writing style was dry. Precede with caution if you decide to read this. You might find it more interesting than I did, or you may feel folks are babbling on for paragraphs wondering where the heck they are going.
How would you communicate who we are to intelligent life which would have zero understanding of our planet? Feb 21, Gendou rated it really liked it Shelves: science , history-of-science , non-fiction. This book is the history of the Voyager golden plate told by those involved in its creation.
I listened to the audiobook and it was a superb treat to hear the Ann Druyan and Frank Drake reading their own chapter. Also it was wonderful to hear Nick Sagan Carl's son read his fathers writing. There was only one terrible chapter by Timothy Ferris. First of all, this was the most boring chapter. He spends a lot of time talking about the selection process of indigenous music. He describes the Mbuti t This book is the history of the Voyager golden plate told by those involved in its creation.
He describes the Mbuti tribal song which kind of sucks and goes on a short rant about how great their lives are. He talks about how there isn't divorce in their culture and that "vastly more advanced" than we Westerners?
This is an ugly case of the Noble Savage myth. In reality yes, I went and read the seminal ethnography their way of life is savage and some of their customs around "human relationships" are simply reprehensible. What follows is not for the faint of heart, so spoiler alert. This prize of having intercourse with a young teenage girl is paid for in blood as the women of the tribe chiefly the girl's mother savagely beat these suitors.
Also, the tribe believes pregnancy can only occur as the result of marriage which is biologically incorrect, so probably amounts to what we would recognize as shotgun marriages.
Of very young teenagers. Based on a selection process that is expressly violent, and controlled by the mother. Young men who do not participate in elima are subject to "ridicule". So that's the kind of cultural practice Timothy Ferris thinks is "more advanced". Child brides, ritual beatings, and a culture where male status is tied to participation in group sex with children. Fuck you, Timothy Ferris.
Mar 03, Frank Trek Davis rated it really liked it. Murmurs of Earth was so fascinating that even the acknowledgments were worth reading. The book takes 3 approaches to providing the story of the message that we strapped to Voyager and sent out to the stars.
Of course the odds against a random projectile message ever reaching any other intelligence are daunting, yet the project was carried out with admirable conviction. We are first given an idea of the effort that went into planning the contents of the message.
What might seem like a trivial or Murmurs of Earth was so fascinating that even the acknowledgments were worth reading. What might seem like a trivial or novel task was taken on by a team that wanted sincerely to produce a most genuine artifact of the people from Earth. They were forced to work within the constraints of both the medium and the politics of such a project which of course meant that the final product was not the most perfect representation of our rich diversity.
We are treated to an insider's look at the decision processes involved and I'm convinced that no such endeavour could have been perfect.
The next part reads like a bit of a random stroll through culture and history. More fascinating content to support the value of the choices made, however I thought that some few portions of this section bordered on irrelevant to the story. In particular some of Beethoven's background Finally the book helps us imagine where our message is going. Given the publication date we could perhaps acquire better information about this now but it's uniquely rewarding to read the optimistic views of the people involved with the project and their own hopes given the limitations that they expected.
Jun 19, Koit rated it liked it. This was a weird one: a book dedicated to explaining why we sent a certain selection of our combined arts into space instead of other options. While I wholeheartedly stand beside the reason for which the people described within went through these actions, I found that aside some anecdotal stories such as that of the Georgian evaluating traditional music as well as the numerous accounts of Beethoven the book itself did not compel me to learn more.
Now, of course, a part of this is that reading a This was a weird one: a book dedicated to explaining why we sent a certain selection of our combined arts into space instead of other options.
Now, of course, a part of this is that reading about music or photography will always be less intriguing than actually partaking of these arts and some of the pieces that were included on the Voyagers were described very well indeed. I am also very keen on listening to the music included on the ships, but this book as a story did not inspire me as I hoped it would.
A more distant reflection might be that if this book were written today, it would be of an entirely different narrative structure -- and I think it would also be woven into more of a continuous story and it would probably be less repetitive.
Originally posted here. May 29, Jeff Mauch rated it it was ok. I don't often read books that end up being complete duds, but this was one of them. I thought a book on the creation of the gold records that accompanied the Voyager space probes as a message from humanity would have made for an interesting read, but I was wrong. The truth is that these records seem to be more of an after thought that I realized.
Sure, some very knowledgeable minds came together to create them, but they were by no means a gathering of the best and brightest. It was essentially a I don't often read books that end up being complete duds, but this was one of them. It was essentially a handful of professors and scientists arguing the value and merit of Beethoven and Bach against Gregorian chants and Mariachi Music, and yes all 4 made it on these records. I'm not going to tell you that I care one way or another what was chosen to represent humanity and earth, I just felt that the story of the messages creation wasn't all that interesting.
Beyond the technical aspects of it, I couldn't care less why one symphony is more important than another. The books saving grace is that it's not all that long and that Carl Sagan was a major contributor, if it wasn't for that, I'd have given it one star.
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