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Farthest Human-Made Object: First Quarter Century

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the marking-time dept.

Space 405

An anonymous reader writes "The NASA Astrobiology Magazine reports today the 25th anniversary of the Voyager I launch, now the farthest human-made object at 93 Sun-Earth distances (93 AU), or 12 light-hours away. Expected battery life to 2020. The fascinating part is that gold record of civilization, which is a strange audio mix of sentimental kisses [wav file, let ET phone home that way] and perhaps the most dated picture of DNA. Some progress there. Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthlings-- much less ET. Case in point: In 2002, can we understand that 70's show, when the Polish greeting memorialized as "Welcome, creatures from beyond the outer world"? Unlike those ET creatures we meet daily from the inner world?"

cancel ×

405 comments

F--P!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110359)

Gosh darn FP!

WTA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110361)

What the ASS?

Re:WTA (-1)

TrollBurger (575126) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110391)

i didn't think i'd have to ask this, i mean, it might be
a bit personal on my part, but i think it must be said,
regardless of how many people it may offend... ok, here
goes

What the hell ??

please post any answers

Battery life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110362)

I thought it used a miniture nuclear power source?

Re:Battery life? (1)

Fenresulven (516459) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110374)

So what, they still don't last forever.

Re:Battery life? (4, Informative)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110433)

Assessing their key radio-isotope generators that power the on-board battery, Massey evaluates: "We don't run out of electrical power until about 2020", or at least for Voyager I, around 43 years towards its lifetime of some communication with its originating star, Sol, and its home planet, the Earth.

Looks like the isotope's power the battery.

Re:Battery life? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110590)

The power source on the Voyager I & II spacecrafts, like most other of the time, is called a PTG or plutonium thermoelectric generator. Basically you have a heat source (chunk of plutonium) surrounded by devices similar in construction to modern peltier coolers. The Seebeck effect (opposite of Peltier effect) allows electrical power to be generated by the temperature gradient across the device. Basically you have an electrical power source with no moving parts and a very long life (Plutonium has a decently large halflife). It's a shame that the environmentalists had a hissy fit in the 80's and 90's that blocked this very reliable technology from being used on modern spacecraft.

Re:Battery life? (2)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110450)

I have a question, why didn't we power the Mars Pathfinder rover by nuclear? Were they afraid that if it crashed into the planet, it would cause some nuclear fall out?

Looks like it was solar/battery http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/MPF/roverpwr/power.html

Re:Battery life? (3, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110508)

Yes. "The planet" in question being Earth. If a nuclear-powered device explodes on launch, or in low orbit, it's "not a good thing". At the very least you'll get radioactive debris spread over a wide area.

Simon.

can it be? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110364)

First!!!

Well... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110368)

I will not buy this record. It is scratched!

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110402)

Who cares about buying records when you can download them for free?

He he..

$|{

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110440)

There are some you can't download for free, and besides, vinyl is a much purer sound.

We all know it comes back to destroy Earth soon! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110380)

We all know it comes back to destroy Earth soon!

I saw it with my own eyes in Start Trek 1 movie. (based on a tv script as well).

I say hit the self destruct button NOW before its too late!

I don't what you're smoking, but, case... (1)

Ser_Olmy (95501) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110381)

...in point: I some want.

That's gotta be one the more inarticulate(sp?) entries for a while, long time.

-cheers!

Deep Shi~H~H~HSpace (2)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110382)

In slightly related news, NASA has lost contact [asia1.com.sg] with Contour, the Comet Nucleus Tour probe.

Which is odd (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110411)

considering it was going nowhere near Mars.

Re:Which is odd (2)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110550)

Well, maybe it is now. :-)

They've found it now (2)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110493)

The BBC [bbc.co.uk] are reporting that they've found the probe orbiting the sun... No comets then ...

Simon

Sending that record was a great idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110393)

In about 300 years an advanced extraterrestrial civilization will come across it and think "Ha, what a primitive civilization, THIS is the extent of their technology... hey, they have lots of water and nitrogen, let's go conquer them." And when they get here they're met by the Global Planetary Defense System with its neutron shield and highly accurate laser weaponry instead, manned by fourth generation genetically-engineered Warrior Humans who kill without mercy but can be easily controlled.

Wish I was gonna be around to watch all this.

Re:Sending that record was a great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110429)

they have lots of water and nitrogen, let's go conquer them

Because nitrogen is SUCH a handy resource.

Well, I guess maybe for their liquid nitrogen freeze rays.

Re:Sending that record was a great idea (3, Funny)

RatFink100 (189508) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110437)

Wish I was gonna be around to watch all this.

I don't you need to be - because apparently this version of the future is based on a poor SciFi B-movie. They've probably got one a Blockbuster you can rent instead.

Re:Sending that record was a great idea (1)

swaic (541592) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110460)


Well when the capsule containing the record breaks apart upon entering their atmosphere, people on that planet may mistake the 12" record for a flying disc. Of course they'll swear to everyone that they saw a flying disc zooming across the sky. Naturally everyone will tell them that they are mental and to stop making up stories.

Audio encoding (1)

fractalk (564689) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110394)

Get us thinking about the bandwidth of an inverted umbrella doesnit?

But, what really makes me think is if only a race with wonderous healling powers can come with audio encoding in sawdisks, or is the healing powers were developed after they discovered that they can encode huge...I mean *HUGE* amounts of sounds in a sawdisk.

Think about the ipods...

Re:Audio encoding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110509)

Fractalk, an appropriate handle. I think your speech has been fractally encoded. Please post RAW text next time so that someone can understand what you are saying.

What the hell are we doing this? (2)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110593)

Why do we put our DNA in space like that? Its fucking stupid!!

What next? Displaying your social security number on the INTERNET? Yeah let all the terrorists and hackers grab your identity?

Well thats what we are doing in space, dumbass Nasa scientists should get their ass kicked seriously.

Sentimental Kisses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110396)

I'm sorry, what? Is that audio clip really from the gold record?

Okay, let's say this record hits a civilization advanced enough to play it. Wouldn't one suppose they're advanced enough to interpret our language as well? Maybe?

I mean.. if WE found a record from outer space and heard nothing but squeeky noises - we would try and interpret it, right? We wouldn't assume that's one six-legged alien crying..

$|{

Re:Sentimental Kisses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110454)

Wouldn't one suppose they're advanced enough to interpret our language as well? Maybe?

I mean.. if WE found a record from outer space and heard nothing but squeeky noises - we would try and interpret it, right?


I'm sure that "they" would try to interpret it, and more than likely would succeed. "Hey, that kid is hungry, and wants to drain the life out of his mother."

Perspective (5, Interesting)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110399)

The fact that Voyager is now 12 light *hours* away really puts things into perspective for me. I'm not much of a space nut but I know that the distance from earth to the nearest stars (apart from our sun) is measured in light *years* so it's humbling to realise that even our furthest reach is trivial in the grand scheme of things. We haven't even stepped out of the house yet, nevermind explored the neighbourhood. (That sounds a bit like a put-down but it isn't. I think Voyager is an awesome achievement.)

Re:Perspective (2, Funny)

rickthewizkid (536429) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110414)

Of course, by the time that this probe *gets* to our nearest neighbor in the galaxy, man will probably have discovered warp-drive, transporters, replicators, shuttlecraft, and expendable guys in red shirts...

-Rick

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110453)

No, we'll catch up to our old probes long before they get anywhere. Either that or destroy ourselves trying.

Think of the possibilities. Once we get worm holes, we can use deep space as a long-term storage medium. Transmit signals (or stuff) into space, then warp out there and fetch it later. It's history and massive data storage all in one.

Example: go out 40 light years and watch the TV shows from 1962, raw and uncut. You'll need a hell of an amplifier, but that's what modern technology is for.

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110586)

good point. we'll be able to get it back before it reaches the nearest ETs and embarasses us. /relief

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110434)

We haven't even stepped out of the house yet, nevermind explored the neighbourhood.

I'd say we haven't even pulled our head out of the fridge yet.

Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthlings?? (1)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110400)

Why? I still believe it's a rather good road-show. It could be much more outdated. All the information containted there is still very much valid. Breast-feeding is still normal practise :) Maybe seeing a breast just scares the nerds and that's why it confused you? :) *no offense*

Re:Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110494)

Looks like you're confused. The 'confuse' link points to a silhouette of a fetus, not the breastfeeding pic.

The silhouette *would* be very confusing, unless there's a solid reference between it and a human baby. Just by itself it could be anything. Keep in mind that the chances of non-terrestrial life looking anything like us is slim to laughable.

Re:Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthling (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110518)

> Looks like you're confused. The 'confuse' link points to a silhouette of a fetus, not the breastfeeding pic.

Ohh, that's what it means. I understood the whole sentence as the origin of this confusion. IMHO, the whole article was confusing, not the data in voyager.

Re:Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110558)

The silhouette *would* be very confusing, unless there's a solid reference between it and a human baby.
Like a lot of pictures of fetuses in various states of development and then some pictures of babies?

What has changed since 1970's? (1, Interesting)

Goldmember (599341) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110404)

I wouldn't worry about ETs not understanding us, looking at the pictures from the 70's. Our world hasn't changed that much really, from an outsider point of view. If the ETs can figure out what the dna picture means, I bet it doesn't matter if it represents our knowledge from 1970's or 2020's.

Why is the probe running on batteries? Is it even possible to use solar power that far from the sun? What does it use energy for anyway? Is it transmitting something back to earth?

Re:What has changed since 1970's? (1)

sirinek (41507) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110410)

Yes, it still sends data back to earth. Here [yahoo.com] is a evry short blurb confirming this. :)

siri

WARNING: dodgy porno redirect (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110446)

Ugh, hidden tubgirl redirect in that link. In many ways, that is worse than goatse.

Re:What has changed since 1970's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110442)

Why is the probe running on batteries?

Snot. That's Slashdot editors at work for you. I believe it's running on RTGs, radioactive thermal generators. Takes the heat from radioactive decay and converts it to electricity. Still runs out of power after a while.

Re:What has changed since 1970's? (2)

jukal (523582) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110468)

Nothing has changed really. If you put this 25 years in perspective, we have not even invented anything important. A couple of wars fought, a few new ways to use old inventions created, escape from trousers that kills your genitals completed (although there are signs of this behaviour is in the air again said MTV when I last watched it a year or so ago). 25 years is nothing.

Re:What has changed since 1970's? (2)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110568)

Bellbottoms are coming back. 'Nuff said.

Re:What has changed since 1970's? (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110583)

"Coming back?" Where have you been for the last 5 years?

As far as I can tell, they're on their way back out again. I think we're on schedule for the Miami Vice/Flock of Seaguls look again.

Re:What has changed since 1970's? (2)

Sircus (16869) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110488)

It's got its own radiation source which is used for power generation (ditto the Pioneer craft). Since this is doubtless running continually whether we want it to or not, it's running out. So it's not batteries per se, but a question of the half life of the element in question. Solar power's out of the question at these distances, hence the need for this power source.

Re:What has changed since 1970's? (3, Informative)

Sircus (16869) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110521)

Ok, I got off (actually, stayed on) my butt and found this [si.edu] :

Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG's)
Three RTG's provide electric power to Voyager. The generators produce about 1800 watts of heat by the radioactive decay of plutonium. The heat is then converted to about 400 watts of electric power by thermocouplers. The RTG's are mounted on a boom to protect the scientific instruments from excess heat and radioactivity.


and this [nasa.gov] , which discusses RTGs in the context of Cassini and safety.

Well, when it does run out.... (1)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110405)

It will drift into space, silent, waiting for someone to pick it up, hopefully it won't burn into the atmosphere of other planets.

Re:Well, when it does run out.... (1)

e-gold (36755) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110601)

I suppose you're too young to have watched the Star Trek ("V'ger" -- an alien modification of Voyager & another alien spacecraft, tries to exterminate everything it can find) or you'd have probably made a joke about it here. I haven't read this thread carefully, but someone else surely has mentioned it by now.

I was lucky enough to watch both Voyager launches that summer in the '70s, from the Canaveral National Seashore, while surf-fishing. They've both been a testament to what robots can do for space exploration, but as a politician once said, "No Buck Rogers, no bucks."

I think, for cost reasons, that the first non-robotic missions to Mars should be one-way, and made by people who plan to die out there. The resources for trying to return someone to earth can better be spent on other things, heartless as that sounds.
JMR

Speaking only for myself (as always).

You know, I think its irresponsible of us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110407)

To send this thing out into the galaxy.


What if it lands on an inhabited planet and kills everyone there because they don't have immunity to Earth diseases ? Yet again, NASA astrologers have not thought it through.

Re:You know, I think its irresponsible of us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110584)

I would imagine most bacteria or viruses would be killed in the extremes of space. Saying that they might of mutated :)

That's Light Hours, not Light Years (2, Informative)

Frodo420024 (557006) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110408)

One massive typo here. 12 light years is 3X the distance of Alpha Centauri...

12 light years would require it to fly at ½ the speed of light, which is not technichally feasible (unfortunately!)

Re:That's Light Hours, not Light Years (1)

srn_test (27835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110505)

Err, either the /. editor bozos are getting naughty and editing "silently", or you misread.

I hope it's the latter; however with the way /. has been going over the last year or so, the former seems much more likely.

Re:That's Light Hours, not Light Years (2)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110572)

Did this story really ever say "light-years"? Because when I read it, it said "light-hours".

Not News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110422)

Space LITTER is not news, nor does it matter. Save this space for things like working penis enlargers. Aluminium foil deflector beanies, etc.

Microwave oven..? (1, Interesting)

dubstop (136484) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110426)

On August 20, 1977, the compact disk, the microwave oven, and the fax machine were communication tools that could only be glimpsed on the technological horizon.

I'm probably going to regret asking this, but how can a microwave oven be used as a communication tool?

Re:Microwave oven..? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110435)

I bought a microwave for sixty quid a couple of months ago, and it works fine.

Funny thing is though, when I tried to type microwave I typed microsoft.

I'm already confused! (1)

Ratface (21117) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110438)

"Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthlings-- much less ET. Case in point: In 2002, can we understand that 70's show, when the Polish greeting memorialized as "Welcome, creatures from beyond the outer world"? Unlike those ET creatures we meet daily from the inner world?" "

Wtf? I don't even understand this /. post, let alone the message we sent to the aliens. I have *no* idea what the poster is trying to say here!

Re:I'm already confused! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110536)

He seems to be criticizing the sentence. The funny thing is that the Polish version does make sense. ETs are creatures from "beyond the outer world" (literal translations often sound weird). He makes up the idea that they said "ET creatures" as the foundation for his slam. Pretty weak.

Carl Sagan and the stellar record. (3, Informative)

ivaldes3 (175216) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110448)

I think it was Carl Sagan was on the team that developed the gold record on the side of Voyager I. The 'stellar record' I believe it was called. -- IV

Re:Carl Sagan and the stellar record. (2, Informative)

pseudosocrates (601092) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110502)

It Was. The English message "Hello from the children of Planet Earth" was read by his son, Nick Sagan [klaneagency.com] , who was, rather amusingly, a story editor for a while on "ST: Voyager"

Re:Carl Sagan and the stellar record. (3, Funny)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110547)

So, is there like, a bong glued to the side of Voyager? hehe just joking Carl, I love you

2012-ish marks next 'landmark' event for Voyager.. (4, Interesting)

upstateguy (90019) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110449)

As BBC reported [bbc.co.uk] yesterday, in 2012 or so, Voyager 1 is predicted to cross the heliopause, the boundry at which time it *really* will leave our solar system.

Pretty neat for a piece of 1970's technology.

Re:2012-ish marks next 'landmark' event for Voyage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110456)

How is that 'pretty neat'? They haven't touched the damn thing for thirty years!

Re:2012-ish marks next 'landmark' event for Voyage (1)

Goldmember (599341) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110507)

I agree that the voyager is a nice thing to be there, but even a brick (4000 bc technology...:) would fly to alpha centauri if given enough time. What would be really neat is that if it would still actually do something.

Re:2012-ish marks next 'landmark' event for Voyage (2)

HiQ (159108) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110520)

Pretty neat for a piece of 1970's technology.
Not really. I mean, the journey it made, the navigation around the planets to gain more speed was pretty impressive, but in my view it is not impressive to leave to solar system. You see, on the next Shuttle flight they could bring a 16th century vase, and hurl it into space. Give it a few years, and it will too leave the solar system, but is that neat, or impressive?

Re:2012-ish marks next 'landmark' event for Voyage (1)

Bishop923 (109840) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110549)

Neither, unless they strap a decent engine to the vase it would quickly get caught in Earth's gravity and vaporize on re-entry.

You have no idea what you're talking about. (3, Informative)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110555)

They would have to hurl that vase at at least 19 kilometers per second for it to leave the solar system, and even at that rate, it would not go nearly as quickly as the Voyager probes. 19km/s would be just enough for it to just barely crawl away from the solar system at a velocity asymptotically approaching zero.

Besides, your analogy falls flat. I presume your point was that the age of the technology is irrelevant when it comes to leaving the solar system? Then consider this: what is it that pushed the 1970s technology of the Voyagers out of the solar system? Answer: more 1970s technology. If your 16th century vase were propelled by 16th century rockets, then your analogy would be valid.

What is the heliopause? (1)

Mirk (184717) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110522)

The BBC news article [bbc.co.uk] that the parent cited sort of defines the heliopause as ``the boundary between the Sun's influence and interstellar space''. That doesn't sound to me like it's something you could put a label on -- much as you can't really say where the ``upper boundary'' of the atmosphere is. You just pick an air pressure which you think is ``close enough to zero'' and define the outer atmosphere as the place where air pressure is that low.

But is seems as though this heliopause is something more concrete. The article goes on to say:

Voyager 1 has already discovered that the outbound solar wind around it is slowing from effects of inbound interstellar particles leaking through the boundary.

A much better prediction of the boundary's location will come when the spacecraft encounters the termination shock, the zone where the solar wind begins piling up against the heliopause. That encounter may come within the next three years.

Weird. Is it just me, or does this sound suspiciously like an old Star Trek script?

It's a sad thing this Voyager thing really (0, Troll)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110459)

Gee, a giant hunk of metal with a computer that makes my palm pilot look fantastic is dominating all our later efforts 25 years ago.

No, I'm not poo-pooing on Voyager, you go lil guy.

But, I want to take a crap all over NASA and the utter inability to best Voyager in the 25 years of innovation since. Is it just me or is the space industry in a completely different reality than the rest of our technology sectors?
I mean really though, think... the space shuttle was in the 80's, 20 years ago and we're still there!

We need to get Gordon Moore in here to help figure out a quantitative method to determine just when I can vacation on Mars thank you very much.

Re:It's a sad thing this Voyager thing really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110539)

Nope buddy... we have moved on in one respect at least - space is becoming totally commercialised, just like the rest of the tech sectors. Look at the speace tourist phenomenon - the american, the south african, and now a #$%@'n backstreet boy....

The music on there (3, Funny)

IainHere (536270) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110470)

When eminent biologist and author Lewis Thomas was asked what message he would choose to send from Earth into outer space in the Voyager spacecraft, he answered, "I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach." After a pause, he added, "But that would be boasting."

you guys are just pissed it doesn't run Linux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110482)

nuff said.

You're like those people who thought Bruce Springsteen would be better if only he wore designer jeans.

DNA is still DNA (5, Insightful)

oingoboingo (179159) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110483)

...and perhaps the most dated picture of DNA

Huh? Unless something changed recently, all the details illustrated in the DNA diagram are still as valid now as they were in the 70s. Is the story submitter upset because the double helix isn't animated, spinning slowly around, backlit by an offscreen purple fluorescent light source with meaningless reams of genetic code flashing past in the background like in a million bad sci-fi movies?

You'll still find a very similar style of diagram in any molecular biology textbook.

HOW Long is that battery lasting??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110489)

... and where can I get one for my notebook computer?

(c) Jon Lomberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110490)

I wonder if the "(c) Jon Lomberg" copyright on the photo of the DNA sketch is also on Voyager!?

DNA looks o.k. to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110492)

OK, I don't want to add to the criticism of Hemos' writeup...but what's wrong with the DNA? I have a Ph. D. (yes, in biology) and it looks fine to me. Maybe it's still too early in the morning for me to see clearly.

Re:DNA looks o.k. to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110552)

It wasn't illustrated using all that great Linux graphics software.

why give them our DNA? (0)

tps12 (105590) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110498)

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to give aliens our DNA? Surely any civilization capable of interstellar travel would also be able to use our "blueprints," as it were, to quickly whip up a few fake humans, or even develop biological or genetic weaponry. Even if they don't use it against us (at first), they come into the relationship knowing tons more about us than we do about them. That initial inequity of information could set the tone for the duration of our contact with another species, making us little better than slaves of a race that is only superior because of the data we gave them.

Re:why give them our DNA? (1)

Scoria (264473) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110600)

You are an astoundingly brilliant troll, tps12. :) Out of respect for you, I'll bite. ;)

Since we already emit significant amounts of radio signals (among other things) into space, discerning our location would be rather trivial for a technologically advanced (or equal) race. Provided they possessed sufficient technology to travel here, abducting and studying human specimens would provide an infinite amount of knowledge in comparison to what is presented by the NASA probes.

From the article (0, Troll)

Mirk (184717) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110501)

... Expected battery life to 2020 ...

(Not supplied.) :-)

Welcome Who? (1)

ppluta (412979) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110503)

Do you all there know languages like the one who put there the voice of woman speaking Polish? She greeted, in perfectly pronounced Polish, the creatures that live after death, like ghosts, spectres and other Nazguls. Polish language difficult is, heh? Or the translation expensive too much?

The one problem I have... (1)

swaic (541592) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110504)

Well actually one of the problems I have is the ridiculous distance for an AU. I'd think it would have made more sense to make an AU 100 Millions miles or 1 billion miles so as to make calculations easier. Then they can simply say Earth is 0.93 AU or 0.093 AU. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the current choice for the distance is kinda dumb.

Re:The one problem I have... (2)

Sircus (16869) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110556)

In what way do you perceive some dodgy, non-metric unit like miles as making calculations easier? Why not define it as 319.1 billion rods?

I guess part of the reason for AU is to give the man in the street something to understand in news stories (since so many people *don't* understand light years). I doubt anyone really does any calculation with it.

Re:The one problem I have... (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110595)

Sure they do. AU are used by astronomers all the time. Why not?

Re:The one problem I have... (1)

bovril (260284) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110582)

Yeah, because a mile is a much better unit... =P

Units of measurement are always going to be somewhat arbitrary and dependent upon what we humans have to use as a point of reference. The distance from Earth to the Sun is as reasonable a unit of measurement as the distance between some aristocrat's nose and his forefinger or whatever. Same goes for metres, kilograms and seconds...

Maybe when the aliens drop by they can tell us what the really sensible units are.

Re:The one problem I have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110602)

[see http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/glossary/au.html [nasa.gov] , http://physics.ucsd.edu/students/courses/spring200 2/physics5/notes/lecture2/tsld018.htm [ucsd.edu] ]

the Astronomical unit is a standard measure for distance to objects within the solar system, being the mean orbital displacement of the Earth relative to the sun.

makes perfect sense, and is no less arbitrary than assigning the distance 100 million km, which is merely the distance light travels in approximately 333.56 seconds, or the definition of the Parsec [1 Parsec (Parallax arc-sec) is defined as the distance to a star which exhibits a parallax angle of 1 arc-second]

these units make perfect sense to the people who use them.

Golden Record (3, Informative)

JimPooley (150814) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110527)

Doesn't the disc on Voyager feature an introduction by then UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim giving greetings from Earth?
How odd that the first human voice any aliens who could work the disc will hear is the voice of a former Nazi alleged to have taken part in war crime atrocities in the then Yugoslavia...

Re:Golden Record (2)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110540)

How odd is it that the former Secretary General was a former Nazi alleged to have taken part in war crime atrocities in the then Yugoslavia?

Infinity taken for granted (2, Interesting)

minkwe (222331) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110529)

What's Next: To infinity and beyond
Another very crucial word that is almost always taken for granted by scientist and lay-men alike is Infinity. Does anybody know what infinity is really? The concept infinity is an ad-hoc device invented by humanity to hide certain contradictions wih our state of knowledge. The mere definition of infinity implies that there is no 'beyond', yet our current state of understanding does not provide room for boundlessness.
Often scientists talk about how the universe is expanding. The concept of expansion itself demands that a boundary be present. And boundaries demark two regions, one within and one beyond. Yet nobody dares mention what is beyond the universe.
All these contradictions just tell us one thing. Alot has to be undone about our stake of knowledge before we can begin to truely understand.
Our current state of knowledge is similar to the days before Galeleo, when people thought the world was flat and you could reach the end of the world.

My 0.02

'Cause they lie (2)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110553)

Obviously the universe isn't getting any larger. Everything inside of it is getting perportionaly smaller, evenly. That way it looks like the universe is getting bigger, but really not. It's just the size of a softball. really.

Re:Infinity taken for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110580)

Okay, when we say that the universe is expanding we mean that all that matter floatign around in all this sapce (thats infinite space) is moving away from the "center" where that thing we call "the big bang" happened. When we say "the universe is expanding" we mean that all that matter hanging around now has better distribution.

Thats about as far as I can possibly dumb it down. I hope you understand.

recompile.org [recompile.org]

Re:Infinity taken for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110603)

You are utterly wrong. The "centre" where "the big bang happened" is at every single point in space.

Perhaps you could get one of your teachers to explain it to you?

Re:Infinity taken for granted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110594)

Does anybody know what infinity is really?
Read a maths book. There's lots of different sorts, all perfectly adequately defined.
The concept of expansion itself demands that a boundary be present.
No it doesn't. Sorry.

What??? (2)

Quarters (18322) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110530)

Case in point: In 2002, can we understand that 70's show, when the Polish greeting memorialized as "Welcome, creatures from beyond the outer world"?


That's a nice sentence fragment you've written. Try full sentences next time. You might like them.

Re:What??? (-1)

Carp Flounderson (542291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110544)

Seriously... Hemos? Are you really that illiterate? Here's another fine example:

Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthlings-- much less ET.

So, you're saying ET will be much LESS confused than earthlings? Come on. Pay attention to the words you're using.

Re:What??? (1)

Stalyn (662) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110561)

Someone needs a punch in the face.

Kind of OT but ... (2)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110551)

... imagine you were on that thing. You'd be the loneliest person known to mankind.

I don't know about anyone else but I get this quite erie vision of this thing out there with nothing around it for millions of miles.

silly question (2)

sckeener (137243) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110576)

How fast is voyager traveling? Can we launch something that is faster? We've got 4.2 light YEARS to get to Proxima Centauri. 12 light HOURS are not going to cut it....

Re:silly question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4110598)

A star that burns twice as bright lasts half as long (or something like that).

I think we need a big catapult to launch these craft :)

Huh? (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 11 years ago | (#4110609)

Voy 1 will likely confuse even modern earthlings-- much less ET. Case in point: In 2002, can we understand that 70's show, when the Polish greeting memorialized as "Welcome, creatures from beyond the outer world"? Unlike those ET creatures we meet daily from the inner world?
Is it just me, or did the article poster really stop making sense at this point?
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