NASA/JPL
NASA/JPL

You Can Now Get Your Own Copy of the Voyager 'Golden Record'

NASA/JPL
NASA/JPL

For more than 40 years, the spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have taken the music, words, images, and sounds of Earth deeper into space thanks to the Golden Record, a copy of which was sent into space with each probe. This mix tape—a 12-inch, gold-plated copper disk—from us to the universe was famously put together by a team lead by Carl Sagan that was tasked with creating a snapshot of our world that aliens could understand—as long as they brought their own record player, as the probes, launched in 1977, lacked them.

Last year, a Kickstarter campaign offered a remastered, 40th-anniversary edition vinyl box set to project backers. The campaign aimed for $198,000; it raised $1,363,037. Now, anyone with $50 will be able to get a copy of Earth's interstellar playlist. You can now order the set from OZMA Records (via Light in the Attic Records). This is big: Even Sagan himself was turned down when he asked NASA for a copy.

The set includes a full-color hardcover book with two CDs of all the audio content and all the images that were encoded in analog on the record, scanned from a set of original slides. Science journalist Timothy Ferris, the original producer of the Voyager Interstellar Record, as it's officially called, penned an original essay for the book. Images beamed back to Earth from the Voyager probes are included too.

Among the tracks you'll hear are a Pygmy girls' initiation song from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the Queen of the Night aria, no. 14, from Mozart's The Magic Flute, and the gospel blues song "Dark Was the Night" by Blind Willie Johnson. Sounds include volcanoes, laughter, footsteps, Morse code, wind, crickets, a tame dog, and a kiss between a mother and a child. Some of the images from 1977 depict a tropical island, a foot race, skyscrapers and mud-brick homes, and a trio of people licking, eating, and drinking.

"I remember sitting around the kitchen table making these huge decisions about what to put on and what to leave off," Ann Druyan, the creative director of the Golden Record and Sagan's wife, told NASA's ScienceCast. "We couldn't help but appreciate the enormous responsibility to create a cultural Noah's Ark with a shelf life of hundreds of millions of years."

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are now far from Earth: Voyager 2 on the periphery of our solar system in what's known as the heliosheath, and Voyager 1, far beyond it, 13 billion miles away—the most-distant object humans have ever sent into space. The probes still talk to us every day, sending back data. One day, perhaps, they'll talk to someone else Out There.

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Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
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Space
Stephen Hawking’s Memorial Will Beam His Words Toward the Nearest Black Hole
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

An upcoming memorial for Stephen Hawking is going to be out of this world. The late physicist’s words, set to music, will be broadcast by satellite toward the nearest black hole during a June 15 service in the UK, the BBC reports.

During his lifetime, Hawking signed up to travel to space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceship, but he died before he ever got the chance. (He passed away in March.) Hawking’s daughter Lucy told the BBC that the memorial's musical tribute is a “beautiful and symbolic gesture that creates a link between our father's presence on this planet, his wish to go into space, and his explorations of the universe in his mind.” She described it as "a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet."

Titled “The Stephen Hawking Tribute,” the music was written by Greek composer Vangelis, who created the scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire. It will play while Hawking’s ashes are interred at Westminster Abbey, near where Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried, according to Cambridge News. After the service, the piece will be beamed into space from the European Space Agency’s Cebreros Station in Spain. The target is a black hole called 1A 0620-00, “which lives in a binary system with a fairly ordinary orange dwarf star,” according to Lucy Hawking.

Hawking wasn't the first person to predict the existence of black holes (Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity accounted for them back in the early 1900s), but he spoke at length about them throughout his career and devised mathematical theorems that gave credence to their existence in the universe.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, a friend of the Hawking family who portrayed the late scientist in the BBC film Hawking, will speak at the service. In addition to Hawking's close friends and family, British astronaut Tim Peake and several local students with disabilities have also been invited to attend.

[h/t BBC]

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IKEA
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Design
IKEA's New Collection for Tiny Apartments Is Inspired by Life on Mars
IKEA
IKEA

Living in a city apartment can feel claustrophobic at times. As Co.Design reports, the Swedish furniture brand IKEA took this experience to the extreme when designers visited a simulated Mars habitat as research for their latest line of housewares aimed at urbanites.

The new collection, called Rumtid, is tailored to fit the cramped spaces that many people are forced to settle for when apartment-hunting in dense, expensive cities. The designers knew they wanted to prioritize efficiency and functionality with their new project, and Mars research provided the perfect inspiration.

At NASA's Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, scientists are figuring out how to meet the needs of potential Mars astronauts with very limited resources. Materials have to be light, so that they require as little rocket fuel as possible to ferry them to the red planet, and should ideally run on renewable energy.

IKEA's designers aren't facing quite as many challenges, but spending a few days at the simulated Martian habitat in Utah got them thinking on the right track. The team also conducted additional research at the famously snug capsule hotels in Tokyo. The Rumtid products they came up with include an indoor terrarium shaped like a space-age rocket, a set of colorful, compact air purifiers, and light-weight joints and bars that can be snapped into modular furniture.

The collection isn't ready to hit IKEA shelves just yet—the chain plans to make Rumtid available for customers by 2020. In the meantime, the designers hope to experiment with additional science fiction-worthy ideas, including curtains that clean the air around them.

Air purifiers designed for urban living.

Furniture joints on bubble wrap on black table.

Modular furniture holding water bag.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of IKEA.

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