If they are successful at deciphering this gibberish—and, given that they will have interstellar spaceships, chances are that they will be more successful than you or I—they will get to listen to the sounds in this video among many others. Some of them are quite scary. I don't know if I would like to visit Earth after listening to them—although, by the time someone finds this, the things making those sounds will probably be gone from the face of the planet. Jimmy Carter, then US President, included the following message:

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. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.


Never a greeting card was so gloomy as this one.

The aliens will also get to hear music from Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Stravinsky, along with Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry. I'm quite happy to know that Berry will be rocking in the clean room of some Imperial Star Destroyer. Roll Over, Vader.


They will also find the images in the second video. 116 images encoded in analogue form, composed of 512 vertical lines—a video signal that will play fine in any old TV set. The images were selected to give a good idea of our place in the universe, showing everything from the planets in our solar system to our internal body structure (always nice to show your guts to hungry aliens) and different scenes from Earth.

Incredibly enough, among the images there weren't any pictures of a naked man or woman, showing us bare as species. Apparently, NASA told Sagan and his colleagues that they wanted to avoid the controversy of the Pioneer plaque, which was attacked by prude conservative groups in the United States—which I guess is a testimony of the sad state of things in this country at the time (and now).


I didn't learn about that until today and I'm speechless that NASA conceded. It seems that some people were—and still are, I'm sure—afraid to show human penises and breasts to an alien civilization traveling in a spaceship. Think about that. Now that is reason enough to wipe out our planet. Or at least, abduct all those morons. Maybe that's what the rapture is all about.

In any case, chances are that aliens will hear and see us way before someone crosses paths with this golden greeting card. Radio signals travel way faster than Voyager—at the speed of light—and in every direction. And we have been sending them for decades now. Even if the radio signals degrade after 50 light years, a passing starship flying a few light years away (or perhaps a listening outpost) would catch them sooner and easier than finding Voyager—which, in the immensity of space, it's the perfect example of the proverbial needle in a haystack.