Voyager 1 - Did anyone argue against the info disc?

When the Voyager 1 explorer was sent out into space in 1977, did anyone argue against including the now famous golden record intended to tell aliens all about Earth? It included recordings of sounds intended to let the aliens know what kind of beings inhabit our planet and what our planet is like, and it was engraved with diagrams showing the human body and a basic map showing where we are in the universe.

I don’t see how that’s such a smart idea. Assuming alien beings are out there, the info is found, and they can make sense of it (huge assumptions or hopes, but that’s the premise of sending the disc), why would we assume they’re friendly? I know that interstellar space travel is extremely unlikely for any beings, but then again, we don’t know if they’re way advanced and have found a way.

It seems akin to the Native Americans or Mayans sending a nice message to Europe in the 1600s, saying “Hey, we got lots of land and gold, and we’re not as technically as advanced as you. Just wanted to say Hi! And here’s a map for finding us!”

Any alien civilization that is advanced enough to find the probe in the first place would also be able to find us easily just from the radio waves we send out.

There was significant push-back to the inclusion of our location (based upon distances from several pulsar sources), but as **Shagnasty **pointed out, we have an expanding shell of non-random radio waves that can pinpoint our location rather more exactly.

The worst part was the arrows indicating our vulnerable points. Bad idea, in retrospect.

The only serious arguments I’ve heard against the disc is how unlikely it is to be found. Even if it’s found, how likely is it to be picked up?

The only aliens who will find that thing would be practically all-knowing and all-powerful to begin with, far in excess of what physics projects is even possible. No information we provide them could be of much use.

If we were really thinking it through, we’d have designed the disc with human archaeologists in mind. The odds of humans recovering it are still astronomically small, but they’re astronomically larger than the odds of aliens recovering it.

They didn’t go that far. Yet.

Don’t worry, the Klingons will just shoot it down as target practice instead of pulling off the disc and reading it.

I saw it in a movie.

I believe that our radio waves will be too weak and diffuse (say by 50 LY out) to be detectable, IIRC from past discussions here. And our civilization is about to transition to broadcast free mode.

Right now it’s like rolling a marble onto the front porch when you live in the country and worrying about the redneck hillbillies three towns over discovering it.

The Perfect Master speaks: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3058/can-alien-beings-listen-in-on-tv-and-radio-broadcasts-from-earth

Okay, so I get that it’s reallllllllly unlikely any sentient being would find it and use the information. And that anyone who could use the information probably could find us on their own if they wanted. I understood that already.

But the question is, did knowledgeable people just chalk up the whole disc thing as cute, public-friendly, but ultimately pointless, or did anyone really consider the ramifications of trying to contact other beings?

Radio signals aside, the planet earth itself is about 5.972E24 kg. It’s billions of times more easily findable than a 722-kilogram probe, and aliens will more likely be looking for planets instead of space debris anyway.

It was a feel-good.

Dingbang, as I recall, some people did oppose it on the grounds that we were sending a roadmap into space.

Wikipedia has entry about some opposition to certain aspects.

“One of the parts of the diagram that is among the easiest for humans to understand may be among the hardest for the extraterrestrial finders to understand: the arrow showing the trajectory of Pioneer. An article in Scientific American[6] criticized the use of an arrow because arrows are an artifact of hunter-gatherer societies like those on Earth; finders with a different cultural heritage may find the arrow symbol meaningless.
According to astronomer Frank Drake, there were many negative reactions to the plaque because the human beings were displayed naked.[7]”

Any alien civilization that can make it here would be so much more advanced than us, I find it difficult to imagine that our planet could mean anything to them in terms of resource exploitation. On the other hand, it is distantly conceivable that they’d be interested in helping us out, out of altruism or cultural curiosity (and lacking a Prime Directive to the contrary :wink: ).

But yeah, the least unlikely recovery scenario is that human spacefarers catch up to it before it reaches any alien’s territory.

Really? I find that assumption quite curious. Why would you assume that our planet would be meaningless to them just because they’re advanced? Resources is resources. Just 'cause I’m a big brained smartie doesn’t mean I don’t need water.

And why do you think it’s more likely (though we acknowledge we’re talking about very unlikely events) that they’d want to help us out?

Perhaps they’d be totally different from humans, but maybe not. “Advanced” doesn’t necessarily mean selfless, magnanimous, and kind-hearted. And human history shows that wouldn’t always be how that scenario plays out.

Any civilisation advanced enough to make it here would not have to depend upon extracting resources from planets. And there are no resources special to earth that a gazillion other planets/comets/asteroids/star systems won’t have. Maybe not all in the same immediate neighbourhood, but to a civilisation that can travel light years, it shouldn’t matter.

I think the main reason the Golden record was sent out, as others have suggested, was as a PR exercise. It is not going to be the causal event behind aliens attacking us.

I would guess almost all of the resources of our planet are far more common than intelligent life. Why make the trip just to get water, when there’s probably water (or at least ice) a lot closer to home?

If some extraterrestrials did find our probe and decide to come looking, I’d have to think it would be because they’re interested in intelligent life. Of course that doesn’t mean they’d be altruistic. I doubt we’d be of much use as slaves to a technologically far more advanced species, but maybe we’d make good pets.:wink:

It will be found by a race of Giant Spiders, to whom the arrow is a symbol of lust desired. :stuck_out_tongue:

I think you are conflating the golden plaquessent out with Pioneers 10 and 11 in 1972 and 1973 with the golden records sent with Voyagers 1 and 2 in 1977.

I was an undergraduate at Cornell in the early 1970s when Carl Sagan was on the faculty. I went to a lecture by him in which he discussed the development of the Pioneer plaques before they were launched. He specifically talked about the debate over whether to include directions on the plaque and the potential risks.

He also mentioned the controversy over the naked figures and the protests by some that we were sending “porn to the stars.” On the other hand there were also controversies on the part of feminists because it was the male figure holding up his hand in greeting, and because the female’s genitalia were “censored.” He also mentioned that the faces of the figures were intended to be racially ambiguous.