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.

Does the Full Moon Really Make People Act Crazy?

iStock.com/voraorn
iStock.com/voraorn

Along with Mercury in retrograde, the full moon is a pretty popular scapegoat for bad luck and bizarre behavior. Encounter someone acting strangely? Blame it on the lunar phases! It's said that crime rates increase and emergency rooms are much busier during the full moon (though a 2004 study debunked this claim). Plus, there's that whole werewolf thing. Why would this be? The reasoning is that the moon, which affects the ocean's tides, probably exerts a similar effect on us, because the human body is made mostly of water.

This belief that the moon influences behavior is so widely held—reportedly, even 80 percent of nurses and 64 percent of doctors think it's true, according to a 1987 paper published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine [PDF]—that in 2012 a team of researchers at Université Laval's School of Psychology in Canada decided to find out if mental illness and the phases of the moon are linked [PDF].

To test the theory, the researchers evaluated 771 patients who visited emergency rooms at two hospitals in Montreal between March 2005 and April 2008. The patients chosen complained of chest pains, which doctors could not determine a medical cause for the pains. Many of the patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

When the researchers compared the time of the visits to the phases of the moon, they found that there was no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases, with one exception: in the last lunar quarter, anxiety disorders were 32 percent less frequent. "This may be coincidental or due to factors we did not take into account," Dr. Geneviève Belleville, who directed the team of researchers, said. "But one thing is certain: we observed no full-moon or new-moon effect on psychological problems."

So rest easy (or maybe not): If people seem to act crazy during the full moon, their behavior is likely pretty similar during the rest of the lunar cycle as well.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Rare Harvest ‘Micromoon’ Will Appear on Friday the 13th

pattier/iStock via Getty Images
pattier/iStock via Getty Images

The first Friday the 13th of 2019 is coming this September, coinciding with a spooky full moon—and that unlucky event will also be a harvest micromoon, Newsweek reports. Here's everything you need to know about the lunar spectacle.

What is a harvest micromoon?

Harvest moon describes the full moon that appears in September. You may have heard that the harvest moon is larger and deeper in color than full moons that appear at different times of the year, but this isn't the case. The name harvest moon has nothing to do with its size or appearance. Many people observe the harvest moon just as it surfaces above the horizon—the time when it looks biggest due to the moon illusion, and reddish or orange-y through the filter of Earth's atmosphere. But as the moon climbs higher in the sky throughout the night, these characteristics fade away—just as they would at any other time of year.

This year, the harvest moon will actually look smaller compared to other full moons. On Friday, September 13, the celestial body reaches its apogee, or the point in its orbit where it's farthest from Earth. It has been dubbed a micromoon, which is the opposite of a supermoon.

When to see the harvest micromoon

Besides its scaled-down appearance, Friday's moon won't look any different from a regular full moon. But its rare conjunction with Friday the 13th makes it an event that anyone with a superstitious side won't want to miss. The moon will achieve maximum fullness at 12:33 a.m. the morning of Saturday, September 14 in the Eastern time zone (earlier the further west you go), but it will appear full and bright the previous and following nights. To catch the mini-moon on the 13th, look up late Friday night in a place with minimal light pollution. And if you want the full harvest moon effect, look to the horizon just after moonrise at 7:33 p.m.

[h/t Newsweek]

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