Not satisfied with having already uploaded an amazing series of recording about space events and planetary radio emissions, and even created a radio (Third Rock), now NASA had made available something really unique: the compilation Golden Record: Greetings to the Universe.
Just to be clear, they are all the recordings that were electronically placed onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts.
In case you don’t remember the details of the whole Voyager mission, which started with Jupiter and Saturn and that is still ongoing, here you have everything.
Just a quick summary from NASA’s page:
“The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Continuing on their more-than-37-year journey since their 1977 launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago. Scientists hope to learn more about this region when Voyager 2, in the “heliosheath” — the outermost layer of the heliosphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar medium — also reaches interstellar space. Both spacecraft are still sending scientific information about their surroundings through the Deep Space Network, or DSN.”
Now the good news is that everybody now can log on Soundcloud and listen what NASA has chosen as a description of Earth for perspective alien visitors.
“The message is carried by a phonograph record – -a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages.” (NASA)
Now, the most intriguing thing (to me) is the section devoted to the actual greetings. Being somehow a linguist myself I started listening to those tracks, and noticing an interesting fact: the message was somehow quite uneven across idioms. Some were rather basic (like the laconic Hebrew shalom) others quite long and articulated (like the Latin, which I understood, and the Arabic, which I didn’t). A few others were not actually saying “hello” but something slightly different. The French one was a joyous bonjour tout le monde (hello everybody), while the Japanese was a polite konnichi wa, ogenki desu ka? (hello, how are you?).
I didn’t catch the Greek, but it was another extensive one; I spotted somewhere an irene and a philae sounding words, which from my classic studies I remember meaning “peace and love” or something similar. And the Italian, for some mysterious reasons, was tanti auguri e saluti – words you would use to wish somebody luck, and that could even sound vaguely ironic…
Want to know about the English greeting? “Hello from the children of planet Earth” – actually read by a child. Nice touch, even though if I were an English-speaker alien I would be asking myself why the adults of that species are not welcoming me as well.