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Like songs from tiny villages in the Pacific now swim in space


December 31, 2018 06:09:55

Right outside our solar system, aboard Voyager space probes, there is a Golden Record, a Message in a Bottle, filled with songs and sounds from life on Earth.

Key points:

  • Gold reports aboard probes are now outside our solar system.
  • Of the 27 songs designed to show aliens what Earth is like, two are from Pacific Islands.
  • The recordings also contain 55 greetings in different languages ​​and a set of sounds.

After the explosion from Earth in 1977, Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2012, and Voyager 2 had just crossed the interstellar, heading out of our solar system.

Both probes have a special load on board — a copy of each copper-covered polygraph, called the Golden Record, containing 27 songs from all over the globe.

This entry marked the beginning of sending into space of physical artifacts, including diamonds, advertising Doritos and more recently 50,000 poems read by users on the Chinese social media platform WeChat from around the world.

"Message in a bottle" of possible alien life

When the second probe left our solar system, family members of those who played original traditional songs from the Pacific Ocean told ABC that they were “very, very happy” that fragments of their culture could be the first thing that someone else’s life could hear.

The main purpose of the probes is to collect data and photographs from space and send them back to Earth, but in 1977, NASA asked the famous astronomer Carl Sagan to create a bonus: “Some message for a possible extraterrestrial civilization”.

Mr. Sagan and a group of other people came up with the idea of ​​“The Sounds of the Earth”, commonly known as the “Golden Disc”, which was then supervised by the writer and research associate Ann Druyan, leading the hunt for music and sounds for the disc.

“It was our chance to create a kind of Noah's Ark of human culture,” said Ms. Druyan, who married Mr. Sagan four years after the probes left Earth in 2017.

Inside each Voyager ship, the gold-plated and copper-engraved records are in aluminum hulls with 27 musical objects, 55 greetings in different languages ​​and a collection of sounds that include a kiss, a dog barking, a whale song and a brain wave.

The capsule also includes a polygraph needle and engraved instructions on how a possible foreigner can play music.

Dr. Glen Nagle of Canberra's deep-space communications complex, which receives data from the probes, told ABC that the recording was a "little time capsule."

"[It was] the message in the bottle that we were going to throw into the giant cosmic ocean of the universe, to basically say: "this is who created this spacecraft, this is who we are, this is our place in the universe, and if you are" there, find out about us, and maybe come and see us if you're curious about how we are. ”

The songs include famous tracks such as Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode, and almost unknown traditional music from places like Milingimbi in Australia, in the land of Arnhem and in villages in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

"Part of us in space"

NASA lists one of the songs as “smoking pipes assembled by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service,” but ABC spoke with family members of the original group of waders, who confirmed that the musicians were from the small village of Oroha, in the province of Malayta. ,

Currently, there is no information about how many people speak the Oroh language, but it is estimated that over the past decade this number has amounted to only a few hundred people, and the particular style of music on the record belongs only to them.

Eight people played trumpets for recording, and Sam Matanai, the nephew of one of the men, Isaac Humawai said the song is traditionally meant for special occasions like holidays.

“We are very, very happy that our music, a part of us, is in space,” said Mr. Matanai in an interview with ABC shortly after Voyager 2 became interstellar.

The song was recorded by William Bennett, Solomon's islander, who helped found the broadcasting service of the Solomon Islands after the war in World War II.

Mr. Matanai said that, as it turned out, a copy of it hit the Golden Book after a journalist in the UK visited it.

The original recording is now in the archive of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, and current editorial staff told ABC that they were glad to know that it was there.

Although Mr. Matanai said that he was proud that his family’s song was now floating right outside the solar system, there was even more pride that his culture would live in his village.

“We can pass it on to other generations in [the] the future, because we know it very well, and we can dance it very well, we can do it very well. This pipe was ours, blown up by our ancestors. "

"Something representing the earth"

27 songs came from all over the world, including from the Nyaura clan, from the Papuan New Guinean village of Kandingey in the modern Sepik province.

As in the case of the Solomon Islands song, details from NASA are scarce, and it is referred to only as “a male home song recorded by Robert McLennan”.

“The selected entry was made by two different men on long flutes that distinguish the area associated with male dedication and male houses,” said Dr. Don Niles, Acting Director of the Papua New Guinea Research Institute in Port Moresby, Dr. Don Niles. . ABC.

Male houses are less common in the modern era, but only for men are used for initiation, ceremonies and discussions.

Dr. Niles was a friend of Robert McLennan, an Australian doctor who spent years in PNG before he died in 2013 — and, according to Dr. Niles, Dr. McLennan made hundreds of recordings of traditional music in his lifetime.

“He really loved this place, the music,” said Dr. Niles.

Dr. Niles said that Dr. McLennan was "always ready to share" the recordings with other people, but the full story of how the music came out of the PNG and hit the Golden Record was one of those that Dr. Niles always "put on hearing", so how he was waiting for the right moment.

“Unfortunately, this did not happen, because Bob died a few years ago,” he said.

Since leaving Earth in 1977, Voyager probes have collected a wealth of data and information about life in our solar system and beyond.

And in 2017, the recording became commercially available for the first time in several decades, and even won the Grammy music award this year.

But Dr. Niles said that the recording was much more than “only about the Nyaura clan, about the Eastern Sepik province, about Papua New Guinea”.

“This is what the earth and its creations represent,” he said.


astronomy space,

science and technology

space exploration,


art entertainment

indigenous peoples music


community and society


Solomon islands,

Papua New Guinea,

United States

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