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26 SEPTEMBER 2012

After 35 Years, Voyager Nears Edge of Solar System

"Tucked aboard each Voyager spacecraft was a 12–inch, gold–plated, copper phonograph disc 'containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth,' according to NASA.

Below is a sampling of the 115 images and audio clips, selected by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan. The images were encoded in analog form. The audio was designed to be played at 16 2/3 rpm; a needle, cartridge and symbolic instructions for using the record were also included."

(Nell Greenfieldboyce, 12 September 2012, NPR)

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TAGS

197720th century • Ann Druyan • Carl Sagan • Cornell Universitydeep space probeeating behaviours • extraterrestrial intelligence • golden record • golden records • greetings • immortalise • interstellar probe • Jimmy Carter • Kurt Waldheim • Latin word • morse code • NASANational Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNPRPioneer 10 • Pioneer plaque • probesalutationsolar system • Sounds of Earth • spacespace exploration • space probe • Terrestrialtime capsule • Voyager 1 • Voyager 2 • Voyager Golden Record

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 FEBRUARY 2012

Explorer Recounts Deepest-Ever Ocean Expedition

"Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and Navy oceanographer Don Walsh descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, seven miles below the sea's surface. It's the lowest point on Earth, and deeper than any human had gone before – or since.

Above is a new video chronicling the explorers' journey, weaving animation with audio from an interview granted by Piccard in 2005, three years before his death. The interview was conducted by New York writer Victor Ozols, but went unpublished and eventually ended up on his blog. There it was found by German design student Roman Wolter, who made the film."

(Dave Mosher, 21 January 2011, Wired Science)

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19602005animated presentationanimationcrushing pressuresdeep • dive • divingdocumentary • Don Walsh • environment • epic journey • exploration • explorer • hostile placeicy coldinfo graphicsinformation designinterview • Jacques Piccard • journeylimit to the world • lowest point • Mariana Trenchmotion designmotion graphicsmysterious worldoceanoceanographerPacific Oceanpioneeringpitch blackplanet • Roman Wolter • seven miles • submarine • surfaceSwissTerrestrialtrench • Victor Ozols • visual design

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
02 MARCH 2009

Television Test Cards, Tuning Signals, Clocks and Idents

"Test cards have all but disappeared from tv screens in the twenty–first century, certainly on old–fashioned analogue terrestrial stations, where twenty–four hour programming is the order of the day.
...
So what is the purpose of test cards and why are they so rarely used these days?
...
For a start there was only one channel, and that only broadcast for a few hours in the afternoon and evening. Most people couldn't afford a telly, and they were hardly going to be persuaded to save up for one if the sets in the shops had blank screens. Even when you bought one, it wouldn't work straight out of the box. The dealer would have to install it for you, erect an aerial, and perform a complicated series of adjustments before you received your first picture.

Because sets relied on thermionic valves in those days and ran very hot, it was necessary to allow the circuitry to 'warm up' properly before your programme was due to start. Since this would most likely be the first show of the evening there had to be something on the screen to assure you that the set was going to work properly.

A simple caption would suffice, but how much better to have a display that would allow the viewer to tweak the user controls – brightness, contrast, horizontal hold, etc, that because of the poor stability of the electronic components inside the set required frequent adjustment.

The broadcasters too needed a test signal that would tell them that the network was functioning properly."
(Alan Pemberton)

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TAGS

broadcastidentspioneeringtechnologytelevision • television test cards • Terrestrial • tuning signals • TVUK

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 JANUARY 2004

Pioneer 10: betraying assumed and privileged cultural codes

"We have sent several inscribed messages into space. The two Voyager probes each carry a long–playing record of 'The Sounds of Earth' and both Pioneer craft, the first manmade objects to leave our Solar System, bear plaques charting their route, along with a picture of naked humans waving a greeting. A similar alien salutation could be waiting on Earth for us, says Rose"
(Mark Peplow, Nature News)

Rose C. & Wright G. Nature, 431. 47 – 49(2004).

[On the 3rd of March 1972 NASA launched the Pioneer 10 interstellar probe (spacecraft) into deep space. Attached to it was a plaque designed to communicate something of what it meant to be from Earth. It attempted to present a generalised view of humanity stripped of all cultural and social difference (a normative view). Despite this noble aim the plaque couldn't help but betray its assumed (and privileged) cultural codes. Its focus on Terrestrial life was unmistakably: Human; ethnically Anglo–Saxon (logically North American); heterosexual and 1960s – 70s.]

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