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Gurgles of Earth




Carl Sagan introduced his seminal book, Murmurs of Earth, in the following words:
In August and September 1977, two remarkable spacecraft named Voyager were launched. After exploring Jupiter and Saturn, they will slowly leave our solar system and cruise for eons to come through the realms of other stars. Affixed to each is a gold-coated phonograph record, a message from Earth to possible extraterrestrial civilizations.

By far the most complex and informative of all our attempts so far to communicate with other intelligences, the record contains, encoded in the audio spectrum, 118 pictures explaining our planet and ourselves; greetings in fifty-four different human languages and greetings from the humpback whales; a representative selection of "the sounds of Earth," from an avalanche to a rocket launching, from an elephant's trumpet to a kiss; and almost ninety minutes of some of the world's greatest music.
The chance that the record will ever reach an extraterrestrial is remote, but this by no means diminishes the significance of its presence on Voyager. In this book, the group that was responsible for making the record explains how and - still more important - why they did it, and what they feel the record says not only to possible extraterrestrials but to human beings in the last half of the twentieth century.
"No one sends such a message on such a journey without a positive passion for the future. For all the possible vagaries of the message, any recipient could be sure that we were a species endowed with hope and perseverance, at least a little intelligence, substantial generosity and a palpable zest to make contact with the cosmos."


Dr. Sagan's undeniable contribution to astronomy and space sciences, and his gift for boundless compassion for the creatures on earth and, according to his belief, the infinite variety of creatures which existed outside of it notwithstanding, he died at the age of 62 in 1996, of cancer, at the pinnacle of his intellectual faculties, without any evidence to validate his vision of the natural pervasiveness of life, as opposed to the almost certainty of its caprice.

While his belief in "billions and billions" of lives of any which form was and is enthusiastically shared by many, I was one of the vociferous but loving dissenters. That is not of any consequence. What matters to me is that I do not see that any one of us, including those being born today across the length and breadth of the earth, is likely to witness during his or her lifetime the vindication of this very tantalizing, benign hope: to reach, to touch, to hear, to feel that we are not alone.



This is also for those who believe in my voice and prognostication. Our planet, in my opinion, is choking, gurgling, for what I think is its last breath.