Streams

The Voyager in Interstellar Space

Monday, September 16, 2013

NASA photograph of one of the two identical Voyager space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 launched in 1977. (NASA/Wikimedia Commons)

Ann Druyan, creative director of the NASA Voyager Interstellar Record Project, Carl Sagan's widow, and now executive producer of "Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey", talks about the golden records on board Voyager 1 and reflects on the news that it is now in interstellar space. The record project was intended to demonstrate the diversity of life and culture on Earth for future humans or any intelligent extraterrestrial life it may come into contact with. Plus, Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History and author of the book The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, joins the conversation to talk about the scientific development that Voyager represents. He's the host of the new "Cosmos" series.

Guests:

Ann Druyan and Neil deGrasse Tyson

Comments [15]

Rembot from New Jersey

Unfortunately, I was not encouraged by the Fox trailer for the new Cosmos series. The incessant explosive "thuds" on the sound track, the creepy Lord of the Rings allusions throughout, the gee-whiz melodramatic settings for repeated oh-so-dramatic portraits of Neil Tyson (complete with menacing, swelling music),and the Star Gate set pieces all point the series towards appealing to teenage superhero fans. Little of what appears in the trailer qualifies as science -- most of it seems to be an eye-popping assemblage of Avatar-inspired special effects, designed mostly to entertain and dazzle, but with little appreciation for the hard science that is necessary for us to continue into the Space Age and the future. However, I must trust that Ann Druyan and Neil Tyson, as responsible stewards of the Cosmos brand, won't allow the new series to become the superhero, shallow, and fast-cut schlocky production as depicted in the trailer. It seems a shame that Fox is the producer of the series -- a company that has devoted itself to trivializing, denying and degrading hard science on the national stage is probably not the best choice to tackle an intelligent, thoughtful update on the legendary Cosmos series. Carl Sagan (with Ann Druyan) pioneered the use of marvelous cutting edge special effects for the original series, but that doesn't mean the new series has to out-smash, -crash and -dash the over-the-top effects flooding teenage films today. Hoping for the best...the original Cosmos launched a bevy of young students into careers in space science, and there's a lot of potential resting on the shoulders of this new series. Now, more than ever, planet Earth needs the Cosmos to inspire us. Ad astra...
P.S. Great segment Brian -- I don't mean to ignore your fine interview. Thanks.

Sep. 17 2013 02:54 PM
Zaftig from Bklyn

Very interesting and under-reported segment, thank you! Please keep us posted, and yay for science!

Sep. 16 2013 02:07 PM
John A

A version of "Cosmos" from Fox-TV does not fill me with hope. Hope I'm wrong.

Sep. 16 2013 12:02 PM

I love playing the game with myself where if I'm in a room,I pick one object that would go on the voyager so that perhaps somewhere ,some time,["billions and billions" of space/time years away] some unearthly beings might "lay eyes" on. What will it be today? This cheap clear plastic reading glasses case, this triple "a" battery, this tape measure?[tape measure, that's a good one].

Sep. 16 2013 11:56 AM
DK in BK

Cosmos is back! Some uplifting news is a sargasso sea of disheartening news.

Sep. 16 2013 11:31 AM
Ann

This is mind blowing. If you folks shared this bigger picture news with young kids in the schools, you'd probably play a pivotal role in creating future scientists.

Sep. 16 2013 11:28 AM
The Truth from Becky

Good question SBURGER.

JBUZ - I am sure that can only be an upgrade to Brownsville - ENY.

Sep. 16 2013 11:27 AM
Frank from Lindenhurst

Has Voyager test or reveal any quantum effects along the way?

Sep. 16 2013 11:26 AM
Laura from Nyack

What about the other Voyager, Voyager 2?

Sep. 16 2013 11:26 AM
The Truth from Becky

I am very interested in this topic - please be sure to do a follow up to this segment Brian!

Sep. 16 2013 11:24 AM

jgarbuz - how do you know aliens would actually eat? Maybe they will just absorb nutrients from our soil, or perhaps merely wrap a few tendrils around our bodies until they dissolve so they can drink us.

Sep. 16 2013 11:24 AM
jacob from Brooklyn

Has anyone considered that the whales in their recordings might have been saying "all humans must die, they are destroying our planet" ?? This would be catastrophic if indeed aliens were to intercept Voyager1.

Sep. 16 2013 11:18 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

V'Ger!

Sep. 16 2013 11:14 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Now, with the Voyager outside the solar system, the aliens will be able to track back to us here and come and eat us.
We can't even get along within our own species here, so why would we want to go find space aliens for? Will they let us emigrate to their planet? Will the US have to become the interplanetary policeman? And that's all we need, immigrants from Planet X living in District 9 in Brownsville_East New York.

Sep. 16 2013 11:14 AM

Don't know if Neil deGrasse Tyson reads these comments, but my son discovered him on the internet which fueled his interest in Physics, which led him to consider Bronx Science (over Stuyvesant because they don't have as many Nobel Prize winners in Physics, which led him to study his brains out for the SHSAT (I actually asked him to stop studying after it was postponed due to Sandy, but he ignored me), which led to his starting at Bronx Science this fall. Perhaps he would have taken that path without finding Neil deGrass Tyson or perhaps it really was one of those "flap of the butterfly wings" occurrences. Today, he is excited because they get to sign up for clubs so he is signing up for the Debate Team and for Astronomy Club. I am definitely looking forward to watching Cosmos.

I too wanted to be a physicist at one point in my life because someone told me that if you became a physicist you could be an astronaut. When I watched Apollo 11 land on the moon, I was so sure that I would be traveling beyond our solar system by the time I was an adult.

Sep. 16 2013 10:59 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.