The Voice Of An Owen Just Left The Solar System

Sep 17, 2013

Thumbnail for The Voice Of An Owen Just Left The Solar System
Thumbnail for The Voice Of An Owen Just Left The Solar System

We would like to congratulate Program Chair and Associate Professor of Industrial Design Mr. Josh Owen on having his family legacy carried out beyond the stars. We received this message from Mr. Owen in regards to the news of the Voyager's travels:


You may have heard that the Voyager, launched in 1977, left the solar system today. On board is a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager 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, et al. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim. Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form. The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Sumerian and Akkadian, languages spoken in Sumer (ancient Iraq) and Babylonia about five thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect. Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music.


When Carl Sagan put this project together at Cornell, my father, a professor of ancient Near Eastern Studies at Cornell, was about my age. I was 7 years old at the time, about the age of my children now - playing with Carl's son Nick in my back yard. My father's voice was the first greeting recorded on the Voyager message. It was a greeting from the people of planet earth, spoken by him in Sumerian and Akkadian, two of the earliest written languages, and his is the first voice of mankind to leave the solar system on the Voyager 1 today.


So... the first man-made object to leave the solar system has a little bit of Owen on it.



It's very exciting to see great strides being made in space exploration and even more exciting to work with the family of those involved!