Are We Sending Aliens The Wrong Musical Cue?

Illustration for article titled Are We Sending Aliens The Wrong Musical Cue?

Following NASA's recent decision to transmit the Beatles' "Across The Universe" into space to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the song, journalist Susan Harlan Borghese is concerned that we made the wrong mix-tape for our extra-terrestrial friends. And it's got nothing to do with the fact that that particular song is one of the Beatles' worst.


Borghese uses math to explain her problem:

[I]t was 30 years ago today (or so) that NASA sent a different dedication to our best alien friends forever in the form of a gold-plated, copper 12-inch long-playing record album, which was affixed to the Voyager 1 spacecraft... The Beatles song is shooting straight toward the North Star, 431 light-years away, at 186,000 miles per second. The Voyager "album," however, won't "drop" on Planet X until the year — well, whatever year it will be when it gets there at a rate of only 38,000 miles per HOUR! Even with its considerable head start, this gold-plated tortoise won't arrive until well after that little warp-speed iTune out of Abbey Road Studios.


What will aliens make of our apparent switch from the Fabs to Voyager 1's mix of Chuck Berry, Bach and Beethoven, she wonders? Will they wonder if moptops were replaced by powdered wigs and if vinyl records are superior to digital recordings? Are we accidentally creating an image of humanity as a race of people who read Rolling Stone and relax with a little chamber music of an evening?

Obviously, there's only one thing for it: We have to send Fall-Out Boy into the stars in suspended animation on a very, very slow spaceship. It may not convince aliens that our musical taste has improved, but any way to remove the world of even one emo band should be embraced as tightly as possible. []

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@arachnophilia: I did not know that. Thanks. I have plenty of albums that get a little fuzzy towards the middle and I thought it was my turntable, and now I know. Very interesting.

And yeah. I see the future being mp3s and vinyl. The sooner record stores realize that the sooner they get to keep their physical presence by putting more vinyl in stores.