The above video montage was kindly produced by multimedia artist and musician Claire L. Evans (of Universe) to open the WSF 2010 panel "The Search for Life in the Universe," which featured the likes of Jill Tarter, David Charbonneau, and Steven Squyres. Unfortunately, due to a production clusterWTF, it didn't end up running. Which is a shame, because I really like its somewhat chilling but still hopeful subtleties. Claire breaks down her motivations for putting together the piece:
In 1977, taking advantage of a fortuitous alignment of planets, NASA dispatched two spacecraft named Voyager into space. These probes, now the farthest human-made objects from Earth, carry with them a unique recording, the Voyager Golden Record. Compiled by a team under Dr. Carl Sagan, the Golden Record holds images and sounds, ranging from pulsar beeps to x-ray photographs, the songs of whales and human heartbeats. In addition, the Golden Record holds spoken greetings from the people of Earth, recorded in 55 languages both dead and alive.
This video montage, Greetings from the People of Earth, is a meditation on these recordings, our loneliness, and the herculean, courageous task of SETI. The now-distant voices—all of whom make statements of earnest peace, curiosity, and goodwill, our best human attributes—are paired with images of the night sky from their countries of origin. It seems they are shouting out into the void; indeed, the people on the Golden Record (and perhaps our entire civilization) will be long gone by the time the Voyager probes pass within range of another star system.
Coincidently, we'll be rebroadcasting "The Search for Life in the Universe" in its entirety online, complete with live commenting and Q/A with some of the original panelists and top-notch guest moderators. It's one of several special interactive broadcasts from the 2010 World Science Festival that we're scheduling over the rest of the summer. Check back for details, or sign up for email alerts to stay in the loop.