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The Voyager update project
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  • HighVoltage’s project
    The Voyager update project
    Description has not yet been created.
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.

    THE PROJECT / RESEARCH (with edits…I can’t help myself)

    The Lighthouse Project is a temporary name for the “Voyager Update Project.” In a nutshell we want to mark our territory. This post covers some of the social connotations and implications of this effort. Before I get into the specifics of the social contextualization, I want to first iterate why this idea of marking our territory is so compelling for us.

    In thinking about why we want to communicate with an alien life form we realized that there is no way to really come up with anything practical. The alien could be in the spectrum of our imagination, but most likely is something outside of that limited bandwidth of the imaginary. This forces us to look within…at our own Earth and Solar System.

    Aside from us not being able to imagine or comprehend what we could possibly be communicating with, there are some humane implications that our group felt were worth considering. The first being that any sort of artifact blasted into space, particularly with contents from our earth (a la KEO and Voyager), could render whatever life form overwhelmed. A literary example would be “Ice-Nine” in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat's Cradle, or on a more physical level, Michael Crichton’s Andromeda Strain.

    A commonplace example would be the episode of the Simpsons where the Simpsons go to Australia. The last scene in the episode finds a Koala Bear on the plane that carries the Simpsons back to the United States. Subsequently the United States becomes overcome with Koala's.

    The inclusion of these examples is to bring up the notion of colonialism. This overwhelming of an element or some other artifact from Earth could damage and possibly hurt the recipient of our message. This is something we do not want as we desire a friendly or at the very least platonic relationship with these aliens. The result is to look within and make our own planet the message.

    This “message”—or technically, absence of a message—isn’t intended to be so egotistical that we get stuck and stare at the pond like Narcissus. The message is the connection. That is why the driving force behind our idea is curiosity. This is not like the 60's where we were in a race to the moon to beat Russia, this is an age of Web 2.0. This collective knowledge is a powerful symbol of humanity and the curiosity that drives this is what our group wants to harness for this project.

    So what exactly is it that we're doing? Well we're marking our territory. More specifically, we want to create a lighthouse for the rest of the universe. A beacon stemming from our planet or solar system. We see this in many forms from a dog peeing on a fire hydrant, to pheromones, to the yellow stickers German Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

    The Lighthouse of Alexandria describes our marking system the best. Not for its physical qualities, but for the social qualities it happened to exude.

    It was a navigational beacon.

    It was a resource silo.

    It notified other nations, specifically the Chinese in the 13th century AD, that these lands have been accounted for.

    Finally, it was a monument of spectacle.

    This is just our first iteration, so the marking system will undoubtedly change. We are currently talking about the feasibility of cosmic background radiation as the practical means of communication. But, figuratively this is the intent of the group.

    Cosmic Background Radiation is the medium we’ve proposed to “mark” our place in the cosmic neighborhood. Cosmic Background Radiation is essentially a left over from the cooling of the universe. It was scattered across the universe 400,000 years after the big bang. The universe had cooled enough that there wasn't enough energy to keep electrons and protons apart. So the universe went from being a plasma to consisting of helium and hydrogen and the areas the were more dense with these kept attracting more and more matter around them and formed the galaxies.

    Our instrument of detecting CBR:

    The CMR photons scatter off free charges such as electrons that are not bound in atoms. In an ionized universe, such electrons have been liberated from neutral atoms by ionizing (ultraviolet) radiation. Today these free charges are at sufficiently low density in most of the volume of the Universe that they do not measurably affect the CMR. However, if the IGM was ionized at very early times when the universe was still denser, then there are two main effects on the CMR:

    1. Small scale anisotropies are erased (just as when looking at an object through fog, details of the object appear fuzzy).

    2. The physics of how photons scatter off free electrons (Thomson scattering) induces polarization anisotropies on large angular scales. This large angle polarization is correlated with the large angle temperature perturbation.

    So if we can ionize (removing charged particles such as electrons) parts of the CBR around us, it will change the ripples (small scale anisotropies) in the areas around our cosmic neighborhood.

    There have already been machines built that have been able to do massive scale ionization on earth. This was done in the hopes of being able to control the weather and is called atmospheric ionization.


    From the very beginning, we knew that communication was the key element that needed to be solved for this project to be a success. And sitting around a table, conceptualizing this huge question of how we could make contact with “intelligent life” in the universe, was really mind blowing. The scale of the question, and the resulting hypothetical answers were just beyond anything we’d tried to answer. It was almost like the “God” question. “Is there a god?” “Is there a higher being?” At some point, you have to recognize the inability of the human brain to be able to cognitively understand this kind of question. “Is there life in the universe?” That was probably the first question we really debated. To create a project based on the fact that no life has ever been discovered in the universe other than on Earth could be a huge leap of faith for some people. Then you start to look at the facts, the roughest estimate of how many stars there are in the universe is 10 to the 24th, and to date, 267 extrasolar planets have been discovered. Two days ago, on March 19th, there was an article published that declared that the Hubble Space Telescope had made the first detection ever of an organic molecule in the atmosphere of one of these 267 extrasolar planets: methane.

    For humans to be an anomaly in the universe seems completely unrealistic, and somewhat vain to believe. Also, isn’t it just a little bit boring? So once the question of potential life was covered, how do we possibly communicate with it? I think that’s were our group made a step past anything anyone else had thought of. I mean, we’re faced with trying to perceive the unperceivable: life that has evolved on an entirely different planet, in circumstances and potential elements and other states of matter that we as mankind have not even discovered. It’s like trying to solve a murder with no body, no date of death, no location, no name, no gender, no weapon, no cause of death, no nothing. You can’t answer these questions. Not even if you look at the scientific reasoning behind how life on Earth evolved, it doesn’t matter. Those planets with life somewhere out in the universe have evolved under entirely different circumstances. So trying to create a “message” or a “picture” or a “map” to put on a satellite or send via radio waves is just a waste time, money, and is completely vain and ignorant. It’s like a fucking fairy tale. The original Voyager golden disk is a complete joke. We didn’t want to update it, we wanted to destroy it. That’s why we immediately thought, “forget a message.” Besides the fact that we have no idea how this potential life we may contact has evolved (i.e. they might not have the same senses as humans), a message faces too many obstacles: radio messages can get distorted by cosmic dust, physical objects can get damaged or may not even be recognizable as mentioned before. Oh, and my personal favorite issue: time. Sure, we’ll send something to X galaxy and wait 150,000 years for a response—sounds good. That’s bullshit. So we had define what this hypothetical, unperceivable, intelligent life was…and we did: any life actively observing the cosmos.

    We recognized this all literally in the span of an hour. That’s how fast we were moving. We wanted to answer the question, we wanted create something better, something that could work. So we started talking about history and about how this same sort of issue may have been present or may be present on Earth. We talked about imperialism, how countries sailing to new continents like the Americas had no idea how to speak native tongues and how they would communicate. Monuments came up, the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, and then Chris Chernoff said two words: light house.

    A lighthouse was a perfect analogy. It was a wordless message, a beacon, a sign. That’s when you pull back and look at what the project is about. It’s about establishing communication, but before you can do that, you have to make CONTACT. Forget trying to develop a language based on math, creating the perfect image of man—guess what, we’re far from perfect. MAKE CONTACT. We dove deeper into history, and found The Lighthouse of Alexandria, which represented so much of what we were trying to do. It was a beacon, it represented that land, that time. Our world needed a beacon, it needed a lighthouse.

    Technically speaking, light was a solution to the speed and time problem. It was a solution to the message problem. But we needed a further understanding of space. For those of us lucky enough to have taken astronomy classes, we started pulling the reserves of knowledge from those classes—I guess those test weren’t a total waste. Fred Jasier-Chasen was the one who brought Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation to the table, and a lot of us had no clue what the hell he was talking about at first. But upon further examination, CBR seemed like our perfect medium. It had been around since the conception—basically—of the universe, so if there was some sort of way to alter it, we could be popping up on the grid for any intelligent life actively observing the cosmos (with the assumption being that they would be able to view that spectrum of light either naturally or with technology). Ionization was, of course, the answer to that problem.

    So, we ionize the cosmic microwave background radiation in our vicinity of the cosmos, and BOOM, we pop up on the grid and any intelligent life that notices will most likely investigate, and THEY can figure out how to make contact with us—it’d be pretty hard to ignore something that had been around for trillions of years suddenly changing.

    So that’s it.

    That’s were it should have stopped.

    Figuring out how to fund it, and create some sort of a business model was waste of time—we’re designers, creators, thinkers. Fuck the money issue, that’s why we have producers.

    This aspect of the project created so much frustration, so much anger, and was literally a fucking waste of time.

    So take the good, fuck the bad, and just remember that the answer to life, the universe, and everything…is 42.
    Fri, Mar 21, 2008  Permanent link
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    "And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

    It's a series of tubes.

    And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."

    Thank you for that amazing revelation Sen. Stevens.

    What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Our website hit the "tubes" earlier this week...



    Sen. Stevens
    Billy Madison
    Fri, Mar 21, 2008  Permanent link
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    “First it conquered cyberspace. Now, Google is setting its sights on outer space.”

    Forbes Wendy Tanaka breaks down Google’s latest exploits in world domination.


    Google Space!
    Wed, Feb 27, 2008  Permanent link

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    Last week we brought a wide variety of potential financing parties to the table—from people like Paul Allen and his foundation, to countries like the United Arab Emirates—and we attempted to look into who or what would be the best financial fit for the Lighthouse Project.

    But through our research, we remembered that we needed to remind critics what the Lighthouse Project stands for:

    This project represents the world, life as we know it, and our place in this universe.

    And while these may sound like lofty positive words, negative emotions and questioning could arise.

    A project of this magnitude could be viewed with fear and skepticism as a pointless imperialistic gesture, which takes away from humanity instead of helping it. But while these views most definitely deserve merit, positive aspects of such a project outweigh the negative.

    The Lighthouse Project serves to bring humanity and the world together, by creating a beacon of hope and preservation of our existence through a passive means that could provide the catalyst to create a chain reaction of discovery in the universe.

    The Lighthouse Project proposes that we ionize background radiation around our earth and solar neighborhood in order to create a “fog” that may become detectable to any intelligent life in the universe actively observing the cosmos.

    And the truth is, a project of this magnitude would require an exorbitant amount of funds.

    Following these conclusions it seemed to come down to a tie between potential financial parties: The United Arab Emirates’ Dubai and Google.

    The UAE brings in a GDP of $159.3 billion (2007). They’re famous for their rapidly growing city of Dubai, home to some of the world’s most amazing engineering and architectural feats of the century—like the tallest man-made structure in the world: the Burj Dubai. Dubai’s GDP alone is $46 billion (2006), and they continually show the desire to become unique and more of a destination for business, trade, and tourism. This could actually directly reflect the fact that, while Dubai’s economy was built on oil, its oil and natural gas revenues are currently only 6% of the Emirate’s. In fact, Dubai’s oil reserves have diminished significantly and are expected to be exhausted in 20 years. So what was a country built on oil, is now pushing to become a business and tourist hot-spot in order to compensate for the eventual loss in revenue.

    Necessary implications to look at when considering Dubai (the poster child of the United Arab Emirates) as the hot spot for the Lighthouse Project:

    Dubai’s new airport will allow it to become a focal point of international commerce and trade. Dubai’s convenient location between the Far East and Europe puts it in a position to mediate trade between these two regions more efficiently than ever before.

    But while important developments like the Dubai “Internet City,” “Media City,” and the host of other massive real estate ventures show a country in heavy growth, what about Google?

    Google has a revenue of 16.593 billion. As one of the most prolific companies in the United States and the world, Google represents just that: the world. The power of the internet is not to be underestimated, and the amount of money Google pulls in through advertising and other technological innovations only confirms this. Of course, what kind of a company would Google be with a slogan like “Don’t be evil” if they didn’t give back through philanthropy and charity. is the “charitable arm” of Google, and supposedly aims to help global poverty, energy, and the environment.

    So who won? Out of Dubai and Google, who would be the better party to fund The Lighthouse Project?

    The answer:


    In the end it was decided that for the Lighthouse to truly represent the world, life as we know it, and our place in this universe, we should draw finances and contributions from not just one source.

    Instead, we’ve decided that The Lighthouse Project will succeed under the sponsorships of a conglomeration of companies—companies ranging from oil, to auto, to technology. The Lighthouse Project will truly represent its ideals only through the collaboration of companies on an international scale.
    Wed, Feb 27, 2008  Permanent link
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    Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum:

    Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, and the Emir of Dubai.

    Why the Emir of Dubai?

    Well we wanted to look for certain parties with aspirations to become a planetary actor—or at least be recognized as one.

    Here are just a few things Dubai has done to—*cough*—be “unique.”

    A trend here is: “The World’s Largest ", "The World's Only", or my favorite: "We're-so-loaded-we'll-actually-do-this!”

    The Palm Islands

    The Palm Islands are artificial islands in on which major commercial and residential infrastructure will be constructed. The islands are the largest land reclamation projects in the world and will result in the world's largest artificial islands.

    The World

    The World is a man-made archipelago of 300 islands constructed in the shape of a world map and located 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) off the coast of Dubai.

    The Burj Dubai

    The Burj Dubai is a super tall skyscraper that—when completed in late 2008—is predicted to be the tallest man-made structure in the world. Scheduled for occupancy in September 2009, the Burj Dubai has been designed to be the centerpiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that will include 30,000 homes, nine hotels, 0.03 km² (0.01 sq mi) of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 0.12 km² (0.05 sq mi) man-made Burj Dubai Lake. Burj Dubai will cost US$ 800 million to build and the entire 2 km² (0.77 sq mi) development will cost around US$ 20 billion.

    The Burj Al Arab

    The Burj Al Arab is a luxury hotel designed by Tom Wright of WS Atkins PLC. At 321 meters (1,053 ft), it is the tallest building used exclusively as a hotel. However, the Rose Tower, also in Dubai, which has already topped Burj Al Arab's height, will take away this title upon its opening in April 2008. The Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 meters (919 ft) out from Jumeirah beach, and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. It is an iconic structure, designed to symbolize Dubai's urban transformation and to mimic the sail of a boat.


    The Hydropolis Underwater Hotel and Resort is a planned hotel which will be the world's first underwater luxury resort. It's situated 66 feet below the surface of the Persian Gulf, just off Jumeira Beach in Dubai. Reinforced by concrete and steel, its Plexiglas walls and bubble-shaped dome ceilings will enable guests to see fish and other sea creatures. It is basically divided into three sections: the land station, where guests will be welcomed; the connecting tunnel, which will transport people by train to the main area of the hotel; and the 220 suites within the submarine leisure complex. It will cover an area of 260 hectares, about the size of London's Hyde Park, and will cost an estimated £300 million. It is self-acclaimed to be a 10-star hotel.

    And of course, one of their newest projects—just put out in the news recently:

    Dubai to Build the World’s Largest Arch Bridge by 2012

    - It will be one mile long and 670 feet tall.
    - It will have 12 lanes for traffic.
    - It will cost 817 million dollars.
    - The bridge will carry more than 2,000 vehicles per hour in each direction.
    - A metro line will run across the middle.
    - Construction begins in March, with a slated completion date of 2012.
    Wed, Feb 13, 2008  Permanent link
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    -Research if other planets and bodies already show unique characteristics (markings)
    -How can we mark our space?
    -Is our space already marked?

    (Sources: Wikipedia and " Astronomy, 4th Edition" from Chaisson and McMillan)

    Earth is a planet.

    A planet, as defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighboring region of planetesimals.

    Those are some pretty specific characteristics, but what then makes planets unique?

    Besides the obvious answer of the physical make-up of the planet there are actually many characteristics that can differentiate planets from one and other.

    From elliptical to more circular, planet’s orbits can vary.

    Axial tilt:
    The actual tilt of the planet can vary greatly—just look at Uranus, it’s on its side.

    Planets rotate around their axial. Some move very rapidly (gas giants
    rotate in a few Earth hours), while others…don’t (Venus takes 243 Earth days).

    Some other obvious characteristics include a planet’s mass, whether they have atmospheres, magnetospheres, and orbital satellites like moons or rings.

    But what about stars…like our sun.

    Astronomers can determine the mass, age, chemical composition and many other properties of a star by observing its spectrum, luminosity and motion through space.
    Other characteristics of a star are determined by its evolutionary history, including the diameter, rotation, movement and temperature.

    Notice the word spectrum.

    This is what I was hoping to delve into with my research.

    Astronomical spectroscopy is the technique of spectroscopy used in astronomy. The object of study is the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, including visible light, which radiates from stars and other celestial objects. Spectroscopy can be used to derive many properties of distant stars and galaxies, such as their chemical composition and also their motion, via the Doppler shift.

    And just to review:

    Electromagnetic (EM) radiation: is a self-propagating wave in space with electric and magnetic components. These components oscillate at right angles to each other and to the direction of propagation, and are in phase with each other. Electromagnetic radiation is classified into types according to the frequency of the wave: these types include, in order of increasing frequency, radio waves, microwaves, terahertz radiation, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.

    Basically, through the use of astronomical spectroscopy—or observing the electromagnetic radiation—astronomers can determine what stars, planets, and other celestial bodies are made of.

    An interesting note on planets and asteroids—

    Planets and asteroids shine only by reflecting the Sun's light. The reflected light contains absorption bands due to minerals in the rocks present for rocky bodies, or due to the elements and molecules present in the atmospheres of the Gas giants. Asteroids can be classified into three main types, according to their spectra: the C-types are made of carbonaceous material, S-types consist mainly of silicates, and M-types are 'metallic'. C- and S-type asteroids are the most common.

    So coming back to the question first posed:

    “Are there any unique natural markings to our planet or others?”

    In truth, it was a bit of a stupid question…yeah, there are.

    Of the four “terrestrial planets” in our solar system (which means the planets made up mostly of silicate rocks: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), Earth has the highest density, the highest surface gravity and the strongest magnetic field.

    If astronomers from a distant world were looking at Earth and using spectroscopy to see what Earth was made of, they’d see that it is composed mostly of iron (32.1%), oxygen (30.1%), silicon (15.1%), magnesium (13.9%), sulfur (2.9%), nickel (1.8%), calcium (1.5%), and aluminium (1.4%); with the remaining 1.2% consisting of trace amounts of other elements.

    So what out of all this is the most important?

    Spectroscopy is pretty important, but it’s actually the fact that Earth has the strongest magnetic field that jumps out at me…oh, and a little thing called life.

    Mon, Feb 4, 2008  Permanent link
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    So in my daily browsing of the news online, I came across an article on Wired reporting how NASA is planning to broadcast the Beatles' song "Across the Universe" to Polaris, the North Star.

    Not that I have anything against the Beatles, but do they really sum up what we want any potential life in the Universe to think of mankind?

    I guess peace, love, and the British Invasion are not really all that bad—and NASA is doing it to celebrate a bunch of anniversaries...

    Anyhow, here's the link to the article:

    The Beatles in Space

    Sat, Feb 2, 2008  Permanent link

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    Our theory rests in the hopes of providing a catalyst that could potentially draw the interest of any intelligent life in the universe to our galaxy, our solar system, our sun, and yes…our earth.

    The question, of course, then lies in what exactly that catalyst will be.

    One major factor we know is Time.

    We are admitting that current technologies, no matter how advanced, will severely limit our ability to send physical objects to distant bodies in space in any relevant amount of time.

    The roughest estimate of how many stars there are in the universe is 10 to the 24th, and calculating an estimate of how many planets there are…huge.

    But…to date, 267 extrasolar planets have been discovered.

    We keep thinking about earth. But our technology today doesn’t even allow us to be able to see other planets outside of our solar system (we just have the ability to calculate their existence). What we can see is stars. So we might need to stop thinking about our Earth per-say and actually about our star—the Sun.

    Which brings us back to our Lighthouse Theory: providing a catalyst that could potentially draw the interest of any intelligent life in the universe to our earth.

    Whether we develop a concept to “mark” the earth, sun, or solar system doesn’t matter at this point—it’s really about the exploration of potential ways to “mark,” almost like tagging graffiti.

    This led to the riff of: “if we can somehow ‘tag’ the earth, what if we can tag some other objects in close proximity…like, shall we say comets?”

    Said comets then hypothetically carry our “tag” or “mark” to said intelligent extraterrestrial life, they put two and two together…and so on, and so forth.

    This adds a new part to our present theory: providing a catalyst that could potentially draw the interest of any intelligent life in the universe to our earth…

    …and then supplementing it with some form of redundant communication (i.e. tagged comets).

    Wed, Jan 30, 2008  Permanent link

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