Thursday, November 08, 2007

Message in a Bottle

I'm not sure most people realize how big the Universe really is, despite Carl Sagan's valiant efforts to educate us about it. Light travels at about 1 billion kilometres per hour and yet it still takes about 4 years for that light to travel to the nearest star system to ours. It would take you 15 billion years to cross the Universe at the speed of light.

The farthest human made object from Earth is Voyager 1. After 30 years it is about 16 million km away from Earth but at the wicked fast rate of 60,000 kph it will take about another 50,000 years before it gets anywhere near another star system and millions of years before it gets to any denser parts of the galaxy where it is more likely to be found by an alien species.

When Voyager is found the aliens will discover a gold recording disc that we've included on board. The instructions on how to play the disc is on the record sleeve which is reproduced in the photo above. The record includes sounds and images of Earth.

This is one of the saddest and most quixotic undertakings that I can imagine. It is probably one of the surest bets in the Universe that Voyager will never be found but if it ever was found it would likely be a billion years after we've all died on Earth.

You can track Voyager 1's travels at this site.

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