Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Send More Chuck Berry"

With the passing of Chuck Berry earlier today here's a bit of trivia that will probably make it into the obituaries albeit in an abridged version.

From the Financial Times, Letters:  

Message from space was ‘Send more Chuck Berry’
March 4, 2016
In David Cheal’s story on Blind Willie Johnson’s song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” and its inclusion in the disc attached to Voyager 1 space probe in 1977, he quotes Steve Martin as joking that a message was soon received from another world that read “Send more Blind Willie Johnson”. (The Life of a Song, Life & Arts, February 26.) This is not correct. The joke was made in a skit on Saturday Night Live on April 22 1978, in which Martin’s character Cocuwa, a psychic, reported that the message received was “Send more Chuck Berry”....
Correct and correct. Typical FT reader.

After a rather rocky stretch in the markets and business in the second half of 2008 we reprised a 2007 post for New Year's Eve:

Happy New Year! Earth's Greatest Hits 

For this last post of 2008 I'll link to one of the more optimistic stories I know:

The Mix Tape of the Gods

Published: September 5, 2007
THIRTY years ago today, the Voyager 1 space probe — a one-ton robotic craft whose long antennas make it look rather like a spider the size of a school bus — was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a mission to reconnoiter Jupiter and Saturn. To succeed, Voyager would have to survive five years in the vacuum of space, where it would encounter cosmic rays, solar flares, the hurtling rocks and sand of the asteroid belt, and Jupiter’s intense radiation bands.
The probe did all that, transmitting back reams of scientific data and memorable color photos: of the sputtering red and yellow volcanoes of Jupiter’s moon Io; of the shimmering blue ice that shrouds Io’s fellow satellite Europa, beneath which a liquid ocean is suspected to dwell; of Saturn’s myriad rings and the murky mysteries of its orange satellite, Titan, whose hazy atmosphere is thought to approximate that of the early Earth .
Having accomplished its mission, Voyager 1 might have quietly retired. Instead it remains active to this day, faithfully calling home from nearly 10 billion miles away — so great a distance that its radio signals, traveling at the speed of light, take more than 14 hours to reach Earth. From Voyager’s perch, the Sun is just another star, south of Rigel in the constellation Orion, and the Sun’s planets have faded to invisibility.

Like its twin, Voyager 2 — which dallied behind to examine the outer planets Uranus and Neptune and is departing the solar system on another trajectory — Voyager 1 is approaching the edge of the solar system. That limit is defined by a teardrop-shaped bubble called the heliosphere, where the solar wind (particles blown off the Sun’s outer atmosphere) comes to a halt.
If all continues to go well, Voyager should pierce the heliosphere’s outer skin by around 2015. It will then depart into the void of interstellar space, where it is destined to wander among the stars forever.
Mindful of this mind-boggling fact, the astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake persuaded NASA to attach a gold-plated phonograph record to each of the Voyager spacecraft.
Containing photographs, natural sounds of Earth and 90 minutes of music from all over our world, the record was intended to preserve something of human culture beyond what an intelligent extraterrestrial, encountering the craft at some far-distant time and place, might infer from the spacecraft itself.
The information etched into the grooves of the Voyager record is expected to last at least one billion years. That’s a long time: A billion years ago, life on Earth was first venturing forth from the seas....MORE
Here's the cover of the disc (from NASA)-

Golden Record
Read more about the Golden Record Cover
(Click on the image for a larger view)

Here's a description of what the markings mean (you want your recipient to enjoy their extraterrestrial 'Howdy')....

....On April 22, 1978 during an SNL segment, "Next Week in Review" it was announced that after capturing the Voyager spacecraft, the first alien message received by earth would be:

"Send more Chuck Berry."

Episode 18/Season 3 is considered one of the greatest SNL episode ever.
Here's the transcript.
...Maxine Universe: Well, uh, Cocuwa -- you predicted every Time Magazine cover for the last two years. Um, what's going to be on the Time Magazine cover this week -- uh, next week -- the Pope's cloning, the nuclear dump disappearance, or the Boone-napping?

Cocuwa: NONE of the above, Maxine! You know that my adopted name -- Cocuwa -- means "To help without compensation" in Hawaiian. And I have NOTHING to gain in ANY way from the personal wealth of my great gift. I believe... next week's Time cover... will be about the recent communication from outer space.

Kreeg Antwoord: Uh -- uh -- uh, Cocuwa -- I agree with you that it would be the biggest story if the message was of any importance. But we all know how trivial it is.

Maxine Universe: Well, what -- you mean a foreign planet will actually send a message next week?

Cocuwa: No! A foreign planet actually SENT us a message last week. Next week, the government will reveal the message to the public.

Kreeg Antwoord: [ coughing ] You see, it all started on August 20th, 1977, when NASA put up a recording of the sounds of Earth on Voyager I. A two-hour long tape included, uh, natural sounds of animals, a French poem by Gaugliere, a passage from the Koran in Arabic, messages from President Carter, United Nations Secretary Kurt Waldheim, music -- everything from classical to Chuck Berry.

Maxine Universe: Uh -- and you're saying that the, uh -- another civilization has found the tape?

Cocuwa: Yes. They've sent us a message that actually proves it. It may be just four simple words, but it is the FIRST positive proof that other intelligent beings inhabit the universe.

Maxine Universe: Uh -- what are the four words, Cocuwa?

Cocuwa: The four words that came to us from outer space -- the FOUR words that will appear on the cover of Time Magazine next week -- are: [ he holds up the magazine" "Send More Chuck Berry".

[ the audience applauds enthusiastically ]
The episode is on Hulu.

Finally, here's the playlist from NASA. Blind Willie Johnson is on the disc.

He and Chuck Berry left our solar system and entered interstellar space in August 2012. Here's the real-time odometer.