Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Gold Artifact To Orbit Earth In Hope of Alien Retrieval

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the leaving-them-something dept.

Data Storage 282

Lucas123 writes "The problem: What do you leave behind that billions of years from now, and without context, would give aliens an some kind of accurate depiction of mankind. The answer: A gold-plated silicon disc with just 100 photos. That's the idea behind The Last Pictures project, which is scheduled to blast off in the next few months from Kazakhstan and orbit the earth for 5 billion years. The photos, etched into the silicon using a bitmap format, were chosen over a five-year process that involved interviews with artists, philosophers, and MIT scientists, who included biologists, physicists, and astronomers. To each, was posed a single question: What photos would you choose to send into outer space? The answer became an eclectic mix of images from pre-historic cave paintings to a photo of a group of people taken by a predator drone."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

make a mirror... (5, Funny)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#41546299)

That way they will be tricked into thinking that we look just like them and hopefully they wont be as hostile as some movies predict.
Anyway, I for one, welcome our new gold prospecting overlords!

Rosetta Stone (1, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 2 years ago | (#41546373)

Will it contain something like the Rosetta Stone [wikipedia.org] to help said aliens decipher our languages? More likely it will be found by some post apocalyptic humanish descendants relearning how to get into space...

Re:Rosetta Stone (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41546443)

The point of the Rosetta Stone was that it contained translations of the same passage into a mixture of languages we understood and ones we didn't. It could then be used as a key to understand the languages that we couldn't yet translate. An equivalent for this would be a passage in English, and two translations of it into languages read by aliens five billion years into the future. So, no.

Re:Rosetta Stone (3, Interesting)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 2 years ago | (#41546531)

I assume you would start the list off with some Mathematical/scientific language [wikipedia.org] which is capable of being deciphered by aliens. Also the more probable people(ish) beings to make use of this would be descendants trying to decipher our long lost languages [wikipedia.org] in some post apocalyptic world.

Re:Rosetta Stone (2)

neokushan (932374) | about 2 years ago | (#41546623)

which is capable of being deciphered by aliens.

Umm. I think I see a flaw in your otherwise damn fine plan.

Re:Rosetta Stone (5, Informative)

AC-x (735297) | about 2 years ago | (#41546731)

Mathematical/scientific language

Spoken language is unique, but mathematical language is universal, for a start every alien capable of space flight will know what integers are. Once you've established symbols for numbers, you can match that to elements' atomic numbers, which aliens would also understand. Once you have elements you can start to show chemical structures and so on.

Don't you remember how they did it in [Contact](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118884/)?

Re:Rosetta Stone (0, Troll)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#41546821)

every alien capable of space flight will know what integers are

And you know this...how exactly?

Oh, right: Based on notions conceived during your time here on Earth, you assume that this is true. But you really can't really know anything about an alien race's understanding of numerical systems (neither can I, nor anyone else).

For all I know (and I don't pretend to know much): Numerical systems may not even exist outside of this planet.

Next!

Re:Rosetta Stone (5, Insightful)

neyla (2455118) | about 2 years ago | (#41547047)

Yeah, it's an assumption, and it's perhaps not a 100% certanity that it is correct.

But I think we can agree that the odds of some alien race being familiar with the concept of integers, is a lot higher than the odds that they'll understand english.

Re:Rosetta Stone (5, Insightful)

AC-x (735297) | about 2 years ago | (#41547055)

To understand elements and chemical reactions you need to know how many protons an atom has, which requires knowledge of integers. Atoms are also discrete units, again integers. Even from an astronomical point of view planets and stars for distinct countable (integer) units. If we find aliens they may not understand integers, but if aliens find us they would pretty much have to have all the mathematical and scientific knowledge we do (and a lot more) to get here.

Unless of course said aliens are a sentient cloud of energy / Boltzmann brain, but the laws of physics seem to like to combine common elements into the same organic molecules that life on earth uses, so it seems likely that relatively familiar carbon based live would also evolve on other planets.

Plus at least simple counting has been shown in many animals, even those only distantly related to primates, so it's not like humans are even the only species on earth that can count integers.

Re:Rosetta Stone (5, Funny)

JurgenThor (675394) | about 2 years ago | (#41546869)

Mathematical/scientific language

Spoken language is unique, but mathematical language is universal, for a start every alien capable of space flight will know what integers are.

not it they're using javascript

Re:Rosetta Stone (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546921)

Spoken language is unique, but mathematical language is universal,

No it is not. Math itself is universal, but Mathematical Notation is a human contrivance which has no meaning without a frame of reference. If you hadn't been taught that the character "2" means a value of two, or the little cross we call a 'plus' sign indicates addition, you wouldn't have a clue what 2+2=4 actually was supposed to mean, or that it was even math.
And that's not even getting into irregularities in how we actual read our own notation. Take -2^2 as an example- that evaluates to +4 because the negative sign is a unary operator which replaces ((-1) * (2)), or more simply put the way we treat the expression (-2^2) is actually (-2)^2. But if we apply the standard "order of operations" which we teach children, we really should be evaluating the exponent first so what we'd have is -(2^2) resulting in -4.

Re:Rosetta Stone (4, Insightful)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41546465)

The Rosetta Stone only worked because they knew two languages of the three on the stone. Aliens would most likely not know *any* language we have.

yeah but it won't last that long. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546307)

In a few hundred years, some teenager who's nicked his Dad's space car will go and steal it.

Re:yeah but it won't last that long. (4, Interesting)

feedayeen (1322473) | about 2 years ago | (#41546363)

It'll be gone long before then. If you figure that it only costs a few tens of millions for a private individual to launch a satellite, returning requires more fuel and heat shielding, but that's not too much more. Considering that artifacts only increase in value, the cost of "recovery" only decreases, the only thing that can happen to save it from some billionaire with questionable ethics is if there's so much junk up there that nobody even cares it exists.

Re:yeah but it won't last that long. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546715)

Doesn't cost anywhere near tens of millions. You can get a small satellite put onto a rocket for between $50-100K.

Re:yeah but it won't last that long. (1)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | about 2 years ago | (#41546771)

yeah if you want to leave a message
the gold plate the moon,
not some tiny disc that'g going to get lost

Copyright License? (5, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41546311)

"Sir! We have a lot of pictures!"

"Leave them alone, Lieutenant. We don't have the copyright license to copy them, because the owners are long dead."

"But Sir!"

"I SAID, leave them alone! Haven't you heard of biogenic-nuclear copyright licenses? Without the antidote we'd all die."

Re:Copyright License? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546741)

the only way to see the pictures is if you buy the book. thanks world for not being so cool as during and after the space race.

Image Format (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 2 years ago | (#41546315)

Surely any aliens that can get this far should understand how to read compressed images... They're going to think they're dealing with inferior intelligence and possibly launch an unprovoked...

oh wait.

Bitmap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546317)

Why the **** would you send a disc into space that they'd have to figure out how to read. Why not engrave nano sized pictures?

Re:Bitmap (5, Informative)

vrt3 (62368) | about 2 years ago | (#41546377)

That's exactly what they did. Sadly unsurprisingly the summary got it wrong. See this picture:
http://creativetime.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Disc_001.jpg [creativetime.org]

Re:Bitmap (2, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41547029)

But how do we know that an alien are equipped to translate a 2D monochrome into anything meaningful?
Do they even have vision? Were they ever restricted to 2D observation (like our eyes). Perhaps they used area-based sonar for spatial awareness, or something even weirder?

If your dog can't understand a picture, why would you think an alien can? The dog is likely going to be much closer to what you are.

Anyhow, this is a folly, plain and simple. And not even an impressive one.

Re:Bitmap (2)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 2 years ago | (#41546391)

If you looked at the pretty photo of the disk you would know that it is a 10x10 grid of images etched into silicon, not a CDROM.

Re:Bitmap (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546733)

Summary:

"The photos, etched into the silicon using a bitmap format,"

Article:

"MIT used a machine to etch the photos into the silicon using a bitmap format to create a binary image."

This just illustrates what really pisses me off about journalism today. I spent a good half an hour looking for the actual source of the quotations and statements from the MIT guys. Most of the articles claim to be written by whoever posted them on their magazine/blog/newspaper, but here's the original interview that most of the articles are ripping their quotes from:

http://www.e-flux.com/journal/the-last-pictures-interview-with-trevor-paglen/
I got this link from MIT: http://arts.mit.edu/va/artist/paglen/

I'm still trying to figure out where the information about "MIT used a machine to blah blah" came from, however. So far I haven't actually been able to track it back to anybody.

4 Chan (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546321)

We should just send up pictures from 4 chan.

Then the universe will leave us alone.

Re:4 Chan (3, Funny)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 2 years ago | (#41546379)

If you saw an alien version of 4chan and had the power to destroy a planet.. would you hesitate?

It looks like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546331)

They took the rotor off a Pimp's cadillac and etched some stuff into it. I imagine future Aliens scratching their heads about that one.

Finders keepers losers weepers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546335)

If i were an alien, I don't think I'd retrieve that artifact. First of all, I'd likely be more interested in the planet than in things orbiting it. Second, out of respect for whatever life is on the planet and not knowing what purpose the artifact serves, I'd leave it in place. Third, I'd be very, very likely to overlook it.

As an earthling, however, I'm not only aware that there's (going to be) a silicon disc with 1000 photos up there... I'm pretty sure this gold-plated silicon disc would sell for a pretty penny on eBay as a rare collectors item.

100 images ETCHED onto a disk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546353)

Why not send a large hard drive with antenna out there, so that in the future we can constantly upload new images onto it. If this thing is going to orbit for 5 billion years, then it will only have a few thousand years of history on it. But if we have the ability to upload to it, then we could always upload new images every 1-5 years or so, for as long as human civilization lasts.

Re:100 images ETCHED onto a disk? (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about 2 years ago | (#41546491)

Because a hard drive can last millennia, right. The point is to have something that can outlast the human race, and no machine can do that. Any mechanism will break down, eventually. Engravings do not require maintenance or energy. Of course, you're probably the typical loserboy who can only understands timespans measured in minutes, what with ADHD and assburgers and whatever mental illness you made up and self-diagnosed to justify your mental retardation.

Re:100 images ETCHED onto a disk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546613)

TL;DR.

Re:100 images ETCHED onto a disk? (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41546939)

The point is to have something that can outlast the human race, and no machine can do that.

On the contrary, I am convinced that quite a few machines will. When the last human dies, whether it is three years down the road or three million[*], there are bound to be machines surviving.

But if we really want to make an impression, we need to do something else. This is just signalling to visitors how stupid and vain we are. This plate is obviously made for us, not them. It's a 21st century folly, and not even impressive.
Also, unless they place the satellite in L4 or L5, its orbit is unlikely to last very long.

[*]: If we survive three million years, we won't be human anymore. And if we only last three years, nothing of value was lost.

Voyager discs (4, Insightful)

jeti (105266) | about 2 years ago | (#41546381)

I prefer the Voyager discs. They provide a more positive look on mankind. These photos look more like a guilt trip.

Re:Voyager discs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546533)

Ditto - It's almost a smack in the face to the attention to detail that went into the Voyager discs including the schematic explanations of how to read the disc and rasterize the images. And Voyager actually had the backbone to leave the solar system - good thing it also contains directions on how to identify our planet from which it originated!

Re:Voyager discs (2)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#41546723)

Linky link [wikipedia.org] .

Overkill by 1 or 2 Billion Years (5, Funny)

Scarletdown (886459) | about 2 years ago | (#41546413)

Designed to last for 5 billion years? Won't it and the Earth be one with the sun in about 3 or 4 billion?

Anyway, I think we should baffle the aliens with a bit of bullshit and have a set of pictures that are screenshots of the Death Star destroying Alderaan. Hilarity ensues when word gets out about this and aliens from all over the galaxy scramble to tear up our long dead world in search of any useful information about this tech that allowed the great and ancient civilization that thrived here to build a space station with enough firepower to destroy an entire planet.

Re:Overkill by 1 or 2 Billion Years (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about 2 years ago | (#41546423)

Oh yeah, we also need the obligatory Goatse picture as well.

Re:Overkill by 1 or 2 Billion Years (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about 2 years ago | (#41546459)

I was wondering that too. A couple of searches though seems to indicate that the Sun will not start to enter the Red Giant phase for another 5 billion years.

However, after only another billion years the oceans should boil off due to the extra solar output. I sincerely doubt a gold disk is going to survive in orbit long enough to be destroyed by the beginnings of the Red Giant phase.

Re:Overkill by 1 or 2 Billion Years (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 2 years ago | (#41546541)

Seems to me it'd be pulverized by a meteor long before that anyhow...

Re:Overkill by 1 or 2 Billion Years (2)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about 2 years ago | (#41546551)

RE: the deathstar joke,

Totally gave me a flashback to Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen. The ultra-advanced race of aliens have no concept of deception or even untruth, so they believed the Galaxy Quest show (read Star Trek) was filmed-as-it-happened documentary, and used it to develop their ship. Heh. I can't believe a species as or more intelligent than us could ever survive without a concept of deception....

And if life is common in the galaxy or universe, life advanced enough to do convenient interstellar travel, would it be a surprise if hoaxers and pranksters would put these kinds of "significant objects" in orbit around a bunch of planets, just to piss off other species, or teenagers pranking their own civilizations?

Re:Overkill by 1 or 2 Billion Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546563)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Overkill by 1 or 2 Billion Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546995)

The funniest part about this idea is you could point the planets orbit to the asteroid field to make it look like truth.

"Sir, uh, yeah, remember that picture with a huge planetary object with some sort of energy beam coming out and a planet exploding? We found what the words mean, it points to this position between the 4th planet and the gas giants"
"Ooh, uh, yeah, let's leave before they come back! These people aren't friendly at all!"

Earth banned from the rest of the galaxy.

Maybe "counterintuitive" doesn't apply to aliens (3, Interesting)

Empiric (675968) | about 2 years ago | (#41546415)

My first question on this concept would be, "Why would the hypothetical aliens expect to find a message from us to them in orbit, and look there amongst all the other orbital junk?"

Seems that the most natural thing to expect would be that one should look for informative objects where the culture lived, for which, off the top of my head, "encasement of pictures in a huge block of plexiglass, on Earth" seems more likely to actually be discovered. This seems akin to a historical human culture saying, "We want to make sure that future people know about us and what our ways were, so let's walk 500 miles away from where we live and all our buildings are, and put some paintings up in the mountains."

Re:Maybe "counterintuitive" doesn't apply to alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546547)

My first question on this concept would be, "Why would the hypothetical aliens expect to find a message from us to them in orbit, and look there amongst all the other orbital junk?"

The Earth's surface is A. fucking huge, B. complex enough to require high-resolution imaging to spot a monument of reasonable size, and C. subject to geological processes.

I'd suggest a 100 m^2 corner-cube, but of course more surface area = more solar perturbation, so there's a limit on how big... but if you can get it big enough, it'll be far more conspicuous than anything we could put on Earth.

Re:Maybe "counterintuitive" doesn't apply to alien (1)

Zocalo (252965) | about 2 years ago | (#41546549)

I rather think that plate tectonics and vulcanism would put paid to any monument left on Earth for up to a couple of billion years. The moon or one of the other balls of rock might be a better option from a geological perspective, but would still be vulnerable to a suitably large meteor strike in the vicinity. A small object like a satellite floating around in space is probably going to have the best chance of survival, but the flipside is that it simply isn't very likely to be found unless it can be discriminated from all of the other lumps of ice, rock and dead satellites spinning around the sun.

Realistically, the only way I can see for us to leave a message for an alien race in the distant future is to get our asses off this rock and colonize as many other star systems as possible in the hope that something will still be around when they arrive, ideally that will include distant descendants. Quite simply, we don't currently have the technology to build something that can plausibly survive those kinds of timescales and also be significant enough to guarantee even a miniscule chance of being found.

Re:Maybe "counterintuitive" doesn't apply to alien (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41546651)

What if alien life in 5 billion years has evolved to look nothing like it is today? They could be bags, of mostly energy, with no real bodies.

"Zodon, please place the Solid Gold Aliens Top 100 Hits CD in the player, so we can decode it."

"I can't, Korgos, we are bags of mostly energy, with no real bodies, and we have no hands."

We should have included a fart app on the CD. That one really never seems to get old.

And then the aliens could really understand our intelligence level.

Re:Maybe "counterintuitive" doesn't apply to alien (2)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41546967)

Put it on the moon, buried in Tycho crater with a magnetic bullseye to direct future travellers to it.

Futility at its purest (3, Insightful)

sa666u (2626427) | about 2 years ago | (#41546419)

Why do people love stroking their ego so much? Is it so hard to comprehend that in terms of the universe our lives are completely meaningless?

Re:Futility at its purest (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41546501)

Actually, it is more for when the astronauts time warp into the future and discover humans are subservient to apes. It will be proof it should be the other way around and help the humans reclaim their status and we won't need to watch old actors yell those damn dirty apes again..

Re:Futility at its purest (4, Insightful)

Nukedoom (1776114) | about 2 years ago | (#41546587)

Whaaaa? Why do you say that? We are the Universe--we're the conscious part, a beautiful self-aware organism. We didn't create ourselves, but we are the product of a vastly complex series of interactions taking place over the course of billions of years.

We're as about as meaningful as anything the Universe has brought into existence, if not more.

Re:Futility at its purest (2)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 2 years ago | (#41546615)

But the utility of that contraption kicks in only after we are no more, so your argument will no longer be valid.

So I agree with the GP. Also, I find depressing that some people are counting on the extinction of mankind, and are more worried about the time after that and some hipotetical aliens (who may not even exist or come close to Sun, let alone find a piece of debris around a dead planet).

In essence, this gets to be both a silly and depressing idea. Great boooh.

Re:Futility at its purest (1)

Nukedoom (1776114) | about 2 years ago | (#41546661)

Ohh, I don't care for the contraption. It doesn't strike me as particularly effective--more symbolic than anything else. I can appreciate the gesture, though. And isn't that what this largely is? Part of the idea is that hopefully, somewhere out there is life. This is sort of a way to reach out to them. It's very human to me--reaching out towards the unknown, hoping for someone to be there.

I'm trying to fill in the gaps here, but I'm having some trouble understanding. How would my argument no longer be valid? Let me try from one perspective, and let me know if I got it wrong.

Let's say we all die. Does that make our existence any less meaningful? Possibly.

I guess some people would say yes, and others would say no. I don't think there's a decisive way to prove one or the other wrong. I'd like to think there are two ways to think about life--either everything's futile or some things are meaningful.

On the scale of planets and galaxies, I existed for a short time--hardly any time at all. But I experienced it. These things did not. And even though I'll fade, and they'll stay for another couple billions years, I'd rather have known than not known at all. But each to his own.

Re:Futility at its purest (2)

TuringTest (533084) | about 2 years ago | (#41546795)

When you are dead does it matter that you have known?

No, but it matters while we are still alive. That's the essence of everything we can think of.

Re:Futility at its purest (2)

sa666u (2626427) | about 2 years ago | (#41546647)

We're as about as meaningful as anything the Universe has brought into existence...

Exactly my point. If the planet dies tomorrow in a fiery explosion, the Universe will not be a bit different. Noone will notice and noone will care. I think that sending a plaque with (pathetic and preachy) pictures in orbit is arrogant and self centered. I don't even want to raise the question about space junk and how would "aliens" differentiate between debris and inspirational plaques.

Re:Futility at its purest (2)

Nukedoom (1776114) | about 2 years ago | (#41546671)

It doesn't strike me as particularly effective either--more symbolic than anything else. I can appreciate the gesture, though. And isn't that what this largely is? Part of the idea is that hopefully, somewhere out there is life. This is sort of a way to reach out to them. It's very human to me--reaching out towards the unknown, hoping for someone to be there.

I'd like to think there are two ways to think about life--either everything's futile or some things are meaningful. I don't think there's a decisive way to prove one or the other wrong.

On the scale of planets and galaxies, I existed for a short time--hardly any time at all. But I experienced it. These things did not. And even though I'll fade, and they'll stay for another couple billions years, I'd rather have known than not known at all. But each to his own.

Re:Futility at its purest (1)

sa666u (2626427) | about 2 years ago | (#41546749)

IMHO "meaning" is a human concept. We simply exist and that's it. Everything else attached to it is simply ego trippin. When you are dead does it matter that you have known?

Re:Futility at its purest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547045)

Why do people love stroking their ego so much? Is it so hard to comprehend that in terms of the universe our lives are completely meaningless?

Ah, the obligatory +3 Insightful for not having enough Insight to understand that "meaning" is a human concept. Everything is meaningless in terms of the Universe.

Re:Futility at its purest (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547061)

What a depressingly sad outlook you have.

I believe life, particularly intelligent life, gives the universe meaning.

How will they find it? (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41546437)

It's "more space junk." If there was this lone object in orbit? Okay maybe. But we're talking about our planet with lots of stuff up there now. LOTS of stuff. And then meteor showers and crap?

And even if somehow this one trinket found its way into the hands/claws/tentacles of a being from space, are they supposed to be convinced of something? I mean really. Oh look, among all this stuff, there are creatures out there... sending some kind of message... I will go visit them!

"Mixed message" is the best we've got? And for fuck's sake... we've got actual people in orbit... people to talk to.

Why a disc? (1, Offtopic)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#41546439)

Maybe they could have just put printed pictures, well protected. Why use a disc they won't know how the fuck use, so they are pissed at us before even meeting?
At the very least put an Ikea-like manual (no text, just pictures, where things just "click") with it.

Re:Why a disc? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41546485)

Maybe they could have just put printed pictures, well protected.

I don't expect people to read the articles - this is Slashdot, after all - but you could have at least read the summary.

FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546445)

> The problem: What do you leave behind that billions of years from now, and without context, would give aliens an some kind of accurate depiction of mankind.

The problem: what piece of art can you create, seemingly relevant in a cynical time-period where everything has been done, that will generate sentimentality in a transient art consuming world?

FTFY

The Inner Light (1)

McDrewbie (530348) | about 2 years ago | (#41546447)

We can do a better job. How about something like the probe from the ST:TNG episode "The Inner Light." The only problem would be what tune/melody/song would the person engaged with probe learn how to play? We could auction it off the rights or hold some sort of Global Idol song contest, but we would probably end up with some piece of pop dribble or some old, boring classical piece. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Inner_Light_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation [wikipedia.org]

Good if the aliens grasp human aesthetics (3, Insightful)

Maxmin (921568) | about 2 years ago | (#41546453)

Without the context of human perception and aesthetics, many of these images may appear as random noise to an alien species!

Abstract artistic expression works for some of us, but might not be communicating directly enough to clearly convey ideas, concepts, facts, history, even human being's notions of beauty, the latter of which clearly was the curator's primary objective.

I'm not knocking the images themselves. But without the context of human eyes, human life and experience... these will have little or no meaning to anyone who has never lived earth.

Re:Good if the aliens grasp human aesthetics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546641)

I would be very disappointed if this really was one of the last artifacts left to show that humans once existed. I don't think that's at all likely, but if it did happen, the choice of images speaks of a species with little imagination for other viewpoints.

I am honestly hoping that in a century or two, somebody retrieves this thing and puts it in a museum on the ground. That's a far more appropriate place for it.

Re:Good if the aliens grasp human aesthetics (3, Insightful)

hairyfish (1653411) | about 2 years ago | (#41546941)

I'm not knocking the images themselves. But without the context of human eyes, human life and experience... these will have little or no meaning to anyone who has never lived earth.

Well I have lived on the earth, my whole life in fact, and even I struggled to figure what half these photos were about. Silly blurry arty black and white shit may work in the cool end of town, but when you're attempting to communicate with foreigners, you need to keep it as simple as possible.

Misinformation (1)

McDrewbie (530348) | about 2 years ago | (#41546457)

Though we probably f'd our future descendants with all the EM we have been spraying out into the ether, either unintentional leakage or purposeful broadcasts, any hard-copy information should give misleading information about our home system, so that no being would be able to find the coordinates of Earth Of course we would also have to do something to alter the trajectory of any craft we send out, so it couldn't merely be tracked backwards. We don't want any aliens coming 1000 years from now demanding we give them McNeal.

Re:Misinformation (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about 2 years ago | (#41546583)

Ah, Futurama. Now you've got the phrase "compellingly short garment" stuck in my head

Another worthless stunt (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#41546463)

Why does this even get any press at all. It is just plain stupid.

Value for money? (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 2 years ago | (#41546467)

Why not use something a bit more durable [phys.org] and less expensive?

Re:Value for money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546685)

Because an etched picture doesn't require a reading and playback mechanism.

They want to meet Ferengi or what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546553)

Seriously, that's the stupides idea I've seen all morning and I am afraid it's going to stick for the whole week.

Lame choice of photos (4, Insightful)

Maow (620678) | about 2 years ago | (#41546555)

I quickly browsed the images and had a couple thoughts.

1) Why didn't they etch images unencoded? Simply make micro images in high detail (ala microfiche) so they don't have to be decoded?

2) I really didn't think the choice of photos was representative of life on earth. No cityscapes, no human faces close up, no animals / pets (inter-species friendship for example), no image of something technological such as a state of the art mobile phone / laptop. No images of agriculture or even a bouquet of beautiful flowers.

Hell, I could barely tell what some images were supposed to be (well, number 1 took a couple seconds - I thought it was a crystalline structure, number two I haven't figured out yet).

I did like earth from space, but how about an image of Armstrong / Aldrin on the moon? A passenger jet taking off showing outside & in?

So many choices, so poorly selected IMHO.

Re:Lame choice of photos (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 2 years ago | (#41546625)

no animals / pets (inter-species friendship for example)

What is that you want, the alien version of goatse?

Anyway, more seriously, the Armstrong / Aldrin photo in the moon is a good idea, but the "state of the art technology" will become obsolete and meaningless to ourselves in perhaps half a generation, that is a bad example.

Re:Lame choice of photos (1)

Maow (620678) | about 2 years ago | (#41546663)

no animals / pets (inter-species friendship for example)

Anyway, more seriously, the Armstrong / Aldrin photo in the moon is a good idea, but the "state of the art technology" will become obsolete and meaningless to ourselves in perhaps half a generation, that is a bad example.

It's true that the technology would be obsolete rather quickly, but in the billion-year time frame under consideration, it would give an idea of how we interact with our (non-satellite consumer) tech. i.e. a human face gazing at a smart phone with a map displayed, or a video call...

A human interacting with a laptop showing the screen (data consumption & manipulation) & human face again...

I still think it would be worthwhile.

Once we have space elevator(s), we can "upload" more current images of our tech, how's that? ;-)

Re:Lame choice of photos (4, Informative)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41546769)

1) Why didn't they etch images unencoded? Simply make micro images in high detail (ala microfiche) so they don't have to be decoded?

Isn't that exactly what they've done? A lot of people seem to have missed this. They're etched on the blue centre of the disc.

Re:Lame choice of photos (1)

Maow (620678) | about 2 years ago | (#41546839)

1) Why didn't they etch images unencoded? Simply make micro images in high detail (ala microfiche) so they don't have to be decoded?

Isn't that exactly what they've done? A lot of people seem to have missed this. They're etched on the blue centre of the disc.

Now that you mention it, yes, it looks like they have. Although the disk appears cut away.

Harrumph - like I said, it would be a good idea...

*looks away, pretends to be busy*

context interpretation (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#41546569)

Here's what I dislike about the pictures that I've seen on the project website:

Most of them would make bugger all sense to an alien species. Heck, some of them are hard to make sense of if you are a human.

I, too, think the Voyager pictures were a better selection. They provide information about scale and location, something that these pictures don't. Many of them require you to have an understanding of humans and/or human culture to make sense. For example, the indoor pictures have no objective indicators of scale. There is absolutely no hint to tell future alien watchers if these are images of something microscopic, macroscopic, inbetween? Whatever this picture [creativetime.org] is showing, for example, does not even tell the alien if the area shown in the image is 5 mm, 5 cm, 5m, 50m or whatever across. The skeleton in the top-right corner is largely hidden, it only makes sense as a scale measure if you are a human and your brain is trained on filling in the blanks of other humanoid shapes.

Also, I agree that at least from the selection they show on their webpage, way too many of them show natural catastrophies and doom and gloom.

I miss images that would make alien visitors in the not-5-billion-years distant future help make sense of the ruins of our civilization. If you include pictures of cave paintings, why not a city or two? A million years from now, there won't be anything of either left, but a few thousand years from now, ruins of our cities will still be there even if we go away tomorrow.

And why the focus on humans? What about the other 99% of biomass on the planet?

For a project this expensive, it looks way too much like a high school project to me. Amateurish.

5 billion years is very optimistic (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41546579)

Orbits around the Earth are affected by the Moon, that satellite won't just stay there for so long. They would be better off with a Lagrange orbit. Also, if it's only 100 pictures they should've engraved them on the disks rather than using a digital format the aliens have little chance to decrypt.

Re:5 billion years is very optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546779)

They are etched on the disc visually.

Re:5 billion years is very optimistic (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41547011)

apparently they did etch the images onto the disk.

almost pointless (1)

zugedneb (601299) | about 2 years ago | (#41546585)

Leave it to whom?
Aliens have probably managed to make their life longer, if not immortal... I think they are educated, they understand every aspekt of evolution to the smallest equation; don't think they want pictures also...

To our later selves? As examle? Let me ask you, what have we learned from, say, Aushwitz? Did we become stronger, more united and more mundane, or does every batshit crazy faction play the offended, form societies within societies complain as much as they can?

asked the wrong people.... (0)

ushere (1015833) | about 2 years ago | (#41546589)

should have asked an alien - there's plenty of them living around here....

Seriously ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546591)

... nobody suggested porn?

Why do they think it will stay up so long? (1, Insightful)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | about 2 years ago | (#41546635)

Any course correction fuel will quickly (relatively) be used up. Geosynchronous satellites have course correction systems to keep them in the proper orbits.

Yes air resistance is minor at that distance from earth but they have not solved the three body problem. Tidal forces from the moon will eventually disturb the orbits and that will be the end of it. If this was not the case, we would have tiny natural moons around the earth.

Now if they put the disk in one of the L points they might have a chance.

PS: from an orbital mechanics point of view, geosynchronous orbits are not special. They just happen to take the same amount of time as a rotation of the earth. When the length of the day changes over the time frame mentioned, the orbits will no longer be geosynchronous. A billion years is long enough for the moon to change the rotation speed of the earth.

It would also make quantum encryption futile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546639)

...

How will they find this one? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#41546657)

Amongst the hundreds of thousands of orbiting satellites not to mention the garbage floating around the planet how are they supposed to find one little disc? Hell they could make it the size of a shopping mall and they'd still have difficulty locating this. Combined with the fact that I think the future of our planet looks a lot like the few opening scenes from Wall-E I don't have much hope at all for this every being anything than a colossal waste of money.

Pointless crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546743)

I can't believe time, energy and money is put into stupid shit like this which has no purpose whatsoever. It should be criminal.

Where's the p0rn? (3, Insightful)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#41546745)

Maybe I'm browsing the project site wrong, but all I saw were about a dozen photographs? None show images of naked humans that can at least give a hint of what a human looks without the environmental protection suit. Photos of couples having sex and babies can also explain the nature of human reproduction. We're not androids that just rolled off the some fab lab.

Encode them as JPEG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546751)

so at least those alien fuckers have to work for it.

Won't last that long (4, Informative)

jonfr (888673) | about 2 years ago | (#41546753)

The hops this satellite is going last 5 billion years at the orbit of 30.000 km is just nonsense. The orbit is too low and unstable at best, even if this is geosync orbit. He would have needed a orbit pattern of at least 600.000 km (outside the orbit of the moon) to get this goal. Outside forces are more likely to push the satellite towards Earth in few thousands years. Rather then from it. Orbital debris is also going to be a major problem in the long term.

Poor choices, but off by a few billion years too? (1)

Orphaze (243436) | about 2 years ago | (#41546765)

I agree with everyone else about the poor choices of photos that are vaguely artistic rather than actual useful or communicative to a potential alien species, but I also have another issue: 5 billion years?

My understanding was that most orbits decay eventually. I know this is close to geosync and not like the ISS, but is it really likely such a orbit would remain stable for 5 billion-freaking-years? I mean, even assuming no other outside objects cross paths with this satellite, won't its orbit eventually decay? Wikipedia's page on geostationary orbit, specifically orbital stability says this: "In the absence of servicing missions from the Earth or a renewable propulsion method, the consumption of thruster propellant for station-keeping places a limitation on the lifetime of the satellite."

Anyone with a greater knowledge on orbital stability, please chime in.

already proposed for 10 years by KEO (1)

Herve5 (879674) | about 2 years ago | (#41546793)

http://www.keo.org/ [keo.org]

Not that I believe in its interest at any rate, but there is a guy that proposed this to UN in 2000, and has been announcing launch dates every two years since then...

At least he made a living out of it for himself, and seems sincere...

Re:already proposed for 10 years by KEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546847)

http://www.keo.org/ [keo.org]

Not that I believe in its interest at any rate, but there is a guy that proposed this to UN in 2000, and has been announcing launch dates every two years since then...

At least he made a living out of it for himself, and seems sincere...

He seemed sincere, considering he died in 2008.

Boy oh boy. (1)

detlefvonberg (1203488) | about 2 years ago | (#41546803)

This selection of images is an accurate representation of the human species only in the sense that both are incredibly wasteful embarrassments.

Rock roll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546973)

if this isn't an oppertunity for the most epic rick roll EVER, then I don't know what is.

just a very expensive ad campaign to sell a book (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546981)

this is to sell a book. Stop looking for deeper meaning and taking this group literally, discussing details like why there aren't any pictures of humans, or pictures of cell phones or buildings. It's a very, very expensive promotion to sell a coffee table book.

Better Yet . . . (1)

tgeek (941867) | about 2 years ago | (#41547023)

. . . let's put some Flash videos up there. At the right we're going, it's still gonna be around in a few billion years.

As an added bonus: It should act as a warning sign to any visiting aliens - there is no intelligent life here, now move along.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?