A candle in the dark

The Voyagers from Penny Lane on Vimeo.

I came across this inspiring video and thought I would share it, along with some thoughts. The Voyager probes were launched into space in 1977, with the aim of reaching beyond our solar system (which they are doing just about now). They are both equipped with identical plate records, which contain diagrams of our collective knowledge, snapshots of our daily existences, and musical scores of our emotions. The idea came from great visionary Carl Sagan, also author of “The Demon-Haunted World, Science as a Candle in the Dark” which should really be mandatory reading.

The lifespan of these two records, which are made of pure gold and largely protected from erosion by the emptiness of the medium they are traveling through, is estimated to be one billion years. This is well after Earth will have been incinerated by an expanding Sun, putting an end to the brief spark of light that was once the human odyssey. Any evidence of our achievements, struggles, great wars and conquests, our amazing inventions and scientific breakthroughs, all of our cultural outbursts will have been erased from the memory of the Universe.

Yet, those two lonely probes, hurling into the cold great nothing with infinite patience, will remain as the testimony of what humanity once was. Our tiny bottle, thrown into the vastest of oceans, may very well never be read, and certainly not in our species’ lifespan. But on September 5, 1977, we collectively carved our name into the rock of eternity. We did not set this humble legacy on its journey with the hope of making contact, but with the forlorn anticipation of our inescapable fate, and as an everlasting testimony that a highly unlikely coincidence once took place on a pale blue dot. Because they will outlive any other human achievement, the Voyager probes might have been our greatest achievement ever.

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