Programmed with earthly sounds like Beethoven’s fifth, Chuck Berry’s guitar and a baby’s cry, the two original copies of the Voyager Golden Record are, right now, flying through space, billions and billions of miles away. The discs were mounted to two NASA spacecraft, Voyager I and II, in 1977, and sent on an interstellar journey that its visionaries -- including Carl Sagan -- hope will end someday with their discovery by other intelligent (and curious) beings and help tell the story of our planet.
The Voyager Golden Record was packed with songs by Louis Armstrong and Blind Willie Johnson, along with popular music from Japan, Peru, India and other parts of the world. It also contained more than a hundred images, scientific knowledge, greetings in 55 languages and sounds ranging from a heartbeat to the chugging of a train.
Just how organizers crammed all that knowledge onto single discs is ingenious as well. The original was cut to be played at 16 2/3 revolutions per minute, making it possible for the material to fit, and the images were encoded in analog form. The cover of the record contained the diagram and scientific explanation on how to play it.