Selecting an item for aliens that best represents Earth

It is a sunny day and you are outside enjoying the soon-to-be-spring air. A wonderful cool day to remulch your flower beds.

As you sling another shovel of decaying organic material around your azaleas, you notice the quality of the light around you start to change, as if someone in a ridiculously bright, neon yellow shirt has just entered a small white room.

You glance over your shoulder and do a classic double take. “What the…?!’” you ejaculate. Hovering over you is a giant craft. From below it appears round but you have no problem imagining in your mind’s eye that from the side it would appear as a saucer.

Two smiling grey faces with big grey eyes peer down at you. They appear to be waving. The thought that all the tired clichés about aliens since 1947 appear to be true.

They lower something down to you on what appears to be a rope made of glass. It undulates in the wind, but does not break. As it appears before you you hear a strange voice eminating from it. “Howdy!” it says. Gomer Pyle you think? These aliens must have learned English from television signals that left earht decades ago!

You stare blankly at the end of the rope.

“What up, my nigga!?” it says. Apparently they have developed a catalogue of greetings.

You gently pull the glass rope to your lips. You gently speak, “Um, hello?”

The neon yellow seems to be coming from inside your own head and in a matter of seconds the glow behind your eyes fades to black. You have the sensation of falling.

You awaken in the craft. The interior looks remakably like a kitchen from 1958. Plastic injection molded seats. The countertop is red with the outlines of green and yellow boomerangs. On one wall there what appears to be a refrigerator with the word “Kelvinator” in a chrome script.

A grey creature sits next to you. He hands you an Old Milwaukee beer in a can with a pull tab. "Earth will be gone in 24 earth hours. You have been chosen to be the sole survivor. We want to take an item with us that best represents this planet. We have to carry something approximately the size of one of your 1952 Buicks.

“We can travel anywhere on the planet to get this item. You are obviously in a better position to choose what one item will best represent the earth to other civilizations.”

What will you choose?

I’d go for something that represents the best of modern American society in 1952

beanies with Mickey Mouse ears for kids

In circumstances like that, I would select an AK 47 (which in itself is a pretty good choice) and kill as many of them as I can before they vaporize me.

A bicycle!

Yeah, going Ridley on their bug-eyed asses would be my first inclination, too.

Failing that, or assuming for whatever reason I’m suddenly defanged and pacifist in nature, to pick one thing, approximately the size of a Buick, to represent Earth and/or Mankind, I’d go with Michelangelo’s David. Wikipedia says it’s about 17 feet tall.

I would find a super-large computer with the entirety of known history, both of Earth and Humans.

One of those very large and really cool detailed jade sculptures of a landscape with people. A little piece of Earth.

First, I’d like to commend you on some exceptional prose and photographic detail in the OP. The picture is clear, and I see those 50’s details as if I were back there. I’ll have to ponder the options to see if I can improve on Todderbob’s idea.

The idea that the natural world is just too diverse and varied for a proper sample to be chosen, plus having to decide which period of human history is most representative or important, makes me lean in the direction of some storage device that isn’t limited to the printed word. Pictures, audio files, movies, and the sorts of things that could bring back immediate impressions without having to filter it through a language that other civilizations would have to translate, could all be held in some computer’s memory. So it would just be a matter of finding which such computer was best equipped.

Otherwise, a Ronald McDonald statue or one of the old Big Boy ones.

A server containing the backups of Wikipedia, Schlock Mercenary, and the Straight Dope?

Oh, what the hell. Does Cecil Adams count as one item? :smiley:

Oh, and does anyone else think the aliens are very subtly hinting that they want a 1952 Buick?

“We do not.”

More likely I’d just sh!t my pants…aliens don’t do it for me.

I don’t understand why it “has” to be the size of a 1952 Buick?

I was going to say a Big Mac, but if that’s the stipulation, we’ll say a 1952 Buick loaded up full of Big Macs.

Perhaps the Buick is the alien standard unit of volume. One kiloBuick, ten deciBuick, etc.

Thus saith the aliens, “It may be as large as a 1952 Buick. If your item is smaller, so be it.”

I would hope someone has a secret anitmatter store of sufficient size.

“Uh yeah, these antiprotons are so Earth, if you know what I mean.”

If these fuckers want to play games rather than evacuating me and a suitable mate, I can’t be held responsible for my actions.

How many bikini models can fit in a Buick?

In that case: Charlize Theron.

She and I are an item.

A dumpster, full.

The aliens are not destroying the earth. They are here to preserve a piece of it before its inevitible destruction. They know an unavoidable catastrophe is coming and want a record of the earth’s existance. What item would you choose to represent that?

No reason to hate on the aliens.

How about… for not saving us?