The Golden Record



Approaching Valentine’s Day of 2010, NPR featured a love story called “Carl Sagan And Ann Druyan’s Ultimate Mix Tape.”

Druyan, who co-wrote the original “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” in 1980 as well as its newest iteration, discussed the making of the “Sounds of Earth” and how she and Sagan fell in love.

It is the most romantic story that one can tell, a love that defied the limits of life, and death and the boundaries of earth.

The two fell in love while working together on the Voyager project in the 1970s but the truly remarkable part is what followed.

“I had asked Carl whether or not it would be possible to compress the impulses in one’s brain and nervous system into sound and then put that sound on the record and then think that, perhaps, the extraterrestrials of the future would be able to reconstitute that data into thought,” said Druyan to Radiolab (where you can here the love story in its entirety). “And he looked at me in [that] beautiful May day in New York City and said to me, ‘Well, you know, why don’t you go do it? Who knows what will be possible in a thousand million years?’ And so my brain waves and R.E.M. and every little sound my body was making was recorded at Bellevue hospital in New York. This was two days after Carl and I declared our love for each other and part of what I was feeling in me, the recording in my brain waves, part of what I was thinking in this meditation was about the wonder of love and of being in love and to know it’s on those two spacecrafts.”

Those sounds are the ones Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned as the ones of a young woman falling in love during tonight’s “Cosmos” finale.

On the “Sounds of Earth,” there is also a recording of a young boy’s greeting that was also played during tonight’s finale.

“Hello from the children of planet Earth,” said a six-year old Nick Sagan, the son of Carl Sagan, who left a beautiful message for future inhabitants of Mars.

In the waning moments of “Cosmos,” Tyson tweeted:

Maybe some day, if extraterrestrial life discovers and decodes “The Sounds of Earth,” then they will be lucky to have “Cosmos” not too far behind it.


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