The Vinyl Frontier
The fascinating story behind the mission, music, and message of NASA's Voyager Golden Record--humanity's message to the stars.In 1977, a team led by the great Carl Sagan was put together to create a record that would travel to the stars on the back of NASA's Voyager probe. They were responsible for creating a playlist of music, sounds and pictures that would represent not just humanity, but would also paint a picture of Earth for any future alien races that may come into contact with the probe. The Vinyl Frontier tells the whole story of how the record was created, from when NASA first proposed the idea to Carl to when they were finally able watch the Golden Record rocket off into space on Voyager.The final playlist contains music written and performed by well-known names such as Bach, Beethoven, Glenn Gould, Chuck Berry and Blind Willie Johnson, as well as music from China, India and more remote cultures such as a community in Small Malaita in the Solomon Islands. It also contained a message of peace from US president Jimmy Carter, a variety of scientific figures and dimensions, and instructions on how to use it for a variety of alien lifeforms. Each song, sound and picture that made the final cut onto the record has a story to tell.Through interviews with all of the key players involved with the record, this book pieces together the whole story of the Golden Record. It addresses the myth that the Beatles were left off of the record because of copyright reasons and will include new information about US president Jimmy Carter's role in the record, as well as many other fascinating insights that have never been reported before. It also tells the love story between Carl Sagan and the project's creative director Ann Druyan that flourishes as the record is being created.The Golden Record is more than just a time capsule. It is a unique combination of science and art, and a testament to the genius of its driving force, the great polymath Carl Sagan.

The Vinyl Frontier Details

TitleThe Vinyl Frontier
Author
ReleaseMay 21st, 2019
PublisherBloomsbury Sigma
ISBN-139781472956132
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Music, Science, Space

The Vinyl Frontier Review

  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    In 1977, NASA approved a team led by Carl Sagan to create a message representing Earth and humanity that would travel into deep space on the Voyager probe.  The message would contain a playlist of music, sounds, and pictures; essentially it would be a mixtape introduction to Earth for any extraterrestrials that may discover the probe at some point in time."When a group of scientists, artists and writers gathered in Ithaca, New York, to begin work on the Voyager Golden Record, they were attemptin In 1977, NASA approved a team led by Carl Sagan to create a message representing Earth and humanity that would travel into deep space on the Voyager probe.  The message would contain a playlist of music, sounds, and pictures; essentially it would be a mixtape introduction to Earth for any extraterrestrials that may discover the probe at some point in time."When a group of scientists, artists and writers gathered in Ithaca, New York, to begin work on the Voyager Golden Record, they were attempting to capture the soul of humanity in 90 minutes of music." *One of the first decisions to be made was how the message would be delivered as it needed to be preserved for a long period of time in the harsh elements of space.  A record would allow a great deal of information to be preserved in a compact space and the groove could carry not just sound but also encoded photographs.Next, there needed to be some basic criteria for selecting music and images.  An important early decision was to avoid politics and religion (which would confuse extraterrestrials) and to skip artwork entirely; the music would be the art and the photographs would be the facts.  Concerned that images of war and violence could be seen as a threat, the group decided to leave this part of history out of an introduction to extraterrestrials and instead promote Earth as seen "on a good day".The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record is a fascinating look at the group who created the record with insight into the music and photographs that were selected.  The author conducted interviews with those directly involved in selecting the content on the Golden Record and compiled many facts from the testimony of the Voyager team found in Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record, written in 1978, just months after the probe launch.There is some "info-dumping" with scientific explanations that are at times overwhelming and/or confusing for readers with little-to-no background in the field (*ahem* that would be me!), Scott does an excellent job of discussing the facts in an entertaining and conversational way.While The Vinyl Frontier focuses primarily on the music, it also gives readers a brief look into NASA's opinion of the record and its message (and the one thing they didn't want to send to ETs that could offend the American people... *spoiler alert: it was the female anatomy*) and what the U.S. government added at the last minute (*spoiler alert: it was a list of names of officials ...because ETs will totally understand and appreciate four pages of names!*)The Voyagers 1 and 2 both contain a copy of the Golden Record; a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk with an aluminum cover electroplated in uranium-238, which has a half life of almost 4.5 billions years.  I like to imagine extraterrestials finding the record sometime in the next billion years, understanding the mathematical instructions to play it, and hearing Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode for the first time in deep space.Both Voyagers have served us well, gathering data from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune throughout the 1980's.  Now, they're cruising in deep space, carrying a message that may someday be heard by intelligent life we cannot even begin to fathom."Both spacecraft are still beaming back information about their surrounding through the Deep Space Network. We are still receiving readings from these amazing machines, almost half a century after their launch, with instruments aboard enabling technicians and astronomers on Earth to study magnetic fields, investigate low-energy charged particles, cosmic rays, plasma, and plasmas waves. Both Voyagers are expected to keep at least one of their functioning instruments going into the mid-2020s." *If you'd like to see a list of all the images, music, sounds, and greetings on The Golden Record, along with photographs of its manufacturing, visit the link here.Thanks to Bloomsbury Sigma and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record is scheduled for release on May 21, 2019.*Quotes included are from a digital advance reader's copy and are subject to change upon final publication.For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Rama
    January 1, 1970
    The voyager’s golden record The contents of this record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by cosmologist Carl Sagan. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals, including the songs of birds and whales. The record also carries an hour-long recording of the brainwaves of writer and producer Ann Druyan. This is a kind of time capsule for the extraterrestrial species, should these spacecrafts land o The voyager’s golden record The contents of this record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by cosmologist Carl Sagan. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals, including the songs of birds and whales. The record also carries an hour-long recording of the brainwaves of writer and producer Ann Druyan. This is a kind of time capsule for the extraterrestrial species, should these spacecrafts land on an alien planet or intercepted by intelligent beings. They may be able to determine that there are intelligent species in this universe.Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecrafts have left the solar system and journeying in interstellar space. The message recorded on the disc, from President Jimmy Carter, says that this is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. Music includes that of Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky; Indian classical music of Hindustani vocalist Kesarbai Kerkar, music of Guan Pinghu, Blind Willie Johnson, and rocker Chuck Berry. The inclusion of Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was most controversial and highly debated.The record is constructed of gold-plated copper and is 12 inches in diameter. The record's cover is aluminum and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238. Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.468 billion years. It is possible that an alien civilization would be able to determine the age of the record.The author narrates the story of how the record was created from an historical perspective but does not go into the Voyager missions. This book is not for an average reader but may be interesting to readers of Voyager spacecrafts and the work of Carl Sagan.
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  • Jay Gabler
    January 1, 1970
    Scott interjects himself a little much for my taste, but nonetheless I devoured this book. It's a fascinating story, and Scott totally nerds out on all the details. I reviewed The Vinyl Frontier for The Current.
  • Paul Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    A fantastic book telling the fascinating story of how Carl Sagan and a small group put together two golden records containing pictures and sounds that would represent the earth to aliens in only a few weeks.Loved it!
  • Jill Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating!! Like apparently many Americans, I had no idea the golden record was sent into space. How sad is that? Especially since I was alive when it happened... I was born in 1973. Granted, I was very young in 1977, but I was still alive during major chunks of the space exploration., yet never heard a word about this. The concept of reaching out throughout time and space is fascinating, as is Carl Sagan himself, as were the discussions over what to include and how to send it.The personalitie Fascinating!! Like apparently many Americans, I had no idea the golden record was sent into space. How sad is that? Especially since I was alive when it happened... I was born in 1973. Granted, I was very young in 1977, but I was still alive during major chunks of the space exploration., yet never heard a word about this. The concept of reaching out throughout time and space is fascinating, as is Carl Sagan himself, as were the discussions over what to include and how to send it.The personalities, the science, and the humanity behind it all were incredibly interesting. The writing is a delightful blend of fact and snarky little side notes and fun facts. Reading it was like talking to your best friend from grade school. You know the one - his glasses might have never stayed on his nose, but he always knew everything about everything... I found the footnotes distracting only because of the translation of the document to my Kindle, otherwise the information they provided helped clarify a lot of things for me. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this pocket of space and time. And how cool would it be if in the remainder of my lifetime somebody actually responded?? :-)
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    1977 seems like yesterday to me, but I'm not naive enough to think that everyone remembers the debate around what to include that reflected US to any sentient being that might encounter the Voyager space probe. Jonathan Scott relates the story of the proposal, collection and creation of the Golden Record. The Golden Record was created in part through input from Carl Sagan, and he and the players in this book are well represented. The thought that aliens might someday access the Golden Record and 1977 seems like yesterday to me, but I'm not naive enough to think that everyone remembers the debate around what to include that reflected US to any sentient being that might encounter the Voyager space probe. Jonathan Scott relates the story of the proposal, collection and creation of the Golden Record. The Golden Record was created in part through input from Carl Sagan, and he and the players in this book are well represented. The thought that aliens might someday access the Golden Record and the conclusions they might draw from the music, art, and sounds contained is the stuff of dreams. I really appreciated Mr Scott's relaying of the backstory of each item included on the Golden Record, and I especially was impressed by the heretofore undisclosed revelations as well. I think this The Vinyl Frontier would make a fascinating book discussion selection. I definitely wanted to talk about it during and after my reading. I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    I was trying to think where I was in 1977. What songs were playing and what I was doing? During this time that wasn't important enough for me to remember, some of the greatest minds such as Carl Sagan and note worthy musicians were working on history. Imagine what it took for someone to come up with this idea and make it happen? NASA allowing this to be sent on the Voyager probe for future races including our own is amazing. Many of the musicians that were interviewed for this masterpiece of mus I was trying to think where I was in 1977. What songs were playing and what I was doing? During this time that wasn't important enough for me to remember, some of the greatest minds such as Carl Sagan and note worthy musicians were working on history. Imagine what it took for someone to come up with this idea and make it happen? NASA allowing this to be sent on the Voyager probe for future races including our own is amazing. Many of the musicians that were interviewed for this masterpiece of musical history are included as well as a variety of music from all over the world. Many things were placed as this the play list of the music, pictures and even a message of peace from President Jimmy Carter. Although some of the music may be considered outdated, it is still part of the world then. I cannot even imagine this being found after so many decades or centuries. Such a great book and there are many whom I will recommend this book. I received this book from Net Galley and the Publisher for a honest review. I voluntarily read this book.
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