The HERpothesis Golden Record

Photos and songs for the alien civilization that finds this addendum to the Golden Record.

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Featuring photos by Julia Arciga, Alice Liu, Alex Hanson, Megan Harger, Katie Smythe, Shelby Traynor, and Melody Xu

Playlists created by Savana Ogburn, Jo Guelas, Kylie Obermeier, and Megan Schaller of Sonic Blume Zine. Playlist graphics created by Savana Ogburn.

To The Alien Civilization That Finds This,

Greetings from Earth!

My name is Alex Hanson, and I’m the editor of HERpothesis, the website that created this Golden Record addendum: a collection of music and images to show you what life is like on Earth, our home planet (and currently the only one occupied by humans, although we have our sights set on Mars). HERpothesis is made by young women inspired by the intersections of STEM and art, and this Golden Record is our way of showing you how we see and interact with our planet today.

Hopefully at this point you’ve found and deciphered a copy of the original Golden Record, which our species sent out on each of two Voyager spacecraft back in 1977. If you haven’t, I suggest you find and look at that first before diving into the images below. The Golden Record contains 115 images of planet Earth, its weather, its organisms, and its surroundings within the Milky Way galaxy. It was compiled solely by humans, just one of the many diverse species on Earth, but attempted to give a well-rounded view of who we are and where we are—both physically and in the process of our species’ evolution. It also contained music from across our planet and greetings in 55 human languages.

Carl Sagan, the chairman of the committee that selected the Golden Record’s contents, said of Voyager that “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”

If you’re reading this, you must be part of the advanced civilization Sagan was talking about. Here on Earth we have yet to meet species from planets other than our own, so it is difficult for me personally (I’m less than a quarter of the way through the human life cycle and by no means an expert on extraterrestrial life) to imagine what you might be like and how fast your species has developed. I can tell you, though, that the ways humans interact and communicate has changed rapidly even since we sent out the Golden Record almost 40 Earth-years ago. Back then individuals would connect through phone calls and letters, and our media was made only by those who had accumulated the multitude of financial and technological resources needed to create and distribute it. Today, however, our entire world is in constant communication through the Internet. Most people are able to archive their lives through new photography and word-processing technology, then share memories through their unique lens on the Internet, as well as store their digital files for generations to come. Anyone can create media and then share it with our now-global community. This is a huge shift for the humans here on Earth, and it’s affecting every aspect of our lives.

So, we here at HERpothesis present our addendum to the Golden Record. By no means do we claim to represent the entirety of Earth’s population—but here we give a little bit of our perspective, as a few young women engaged in the fields of science and creativity, of what life is like on Earth in our new digital age. What you’ll find in the pictures below is a slice of the things we’ve seen in our young lives, and the way we see them. You may notice some differences from the original Golden Record, like the amount of screens present in the pictures and our personal stylizations in our photography. You may notice some similarities too: we still eat food the same way, and the night sky is just as wondrous to us as it always has been.

HERpothesis also teamed up with our friends at Sonic Blume Zine to provide you with a couple of playlists to express, through music we enjoy, how we’re feeling on Earth. The first, called “Life on Earth,” is all about how humans see ourselves and our planet. The second, called “Other Civilizations,” is about how we envision life beyond our own species, about moving beyond planet Earth. If your spacecraft is equipped with Spotify, you can listen to “Life on Earth” here and “Other Civilizations” here as you peruse images from our own planet.

We hope that, after seeing these images and listening to this music, you’ll feel like you have a little bit of a better understanding of what’s happening on Earth right this second, in 2016. Earth is, overall, a wonderful, beautiful place, and it’s exciting for us to share it with you through our own perspective. Please do pay us a visit some time, if you promise not to bring any drama or destroy our planet—that’s the last thing we need right now. If you are a peaceful species, though, by all means drop by!

Wishing you the best in your travels,

Alex Hanson

HERpothesis Editor-in-Chief

Life on Earth

life on earth flat

Other Civilizations

other civs flat

Earth, 2016

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