Inspired at least partly by the invitation to the coming Space Tweep Movie Night, this is a personal note to my bio here at SpaceTweeps – and the introduction of two of my projects, One kilo message and Mosaic Earth, which are part of the Faces from Earth framework.
I remember a wonderful starry night at Lake Balaton in Hungary, some
forty years ago in my childhood. In those times street lights was much more
sparse in the evening than today, even on such holiday locations like
the Balaton. We watched an open air movie and were on the way back to
our vacation home – I forgot the movie but not the starry night with
its blinking jewels.
That time I had already seen the Fantastic adventures of the spaceship Orion – the now legendary Space Patrol series started on 17 September 1966 in Germany and came early 1968 to Hungary – and some Apollo landings as well. Perhaps this night was the first one in my life as a wanna-be astronomer when I was pondering really about whether we can get to the stars one day and what would we find there.
Later, I became a theroetical physicist, studied cosmology, and tried to figure out if in our world there is a hyperdrive like in Asimov’s Foundation Universe (I did not succeed, unfortunately). Then my paths led me to very different, much more earthly fields like business consulting on financial processes which secured my living, but after all, did not satisfy my needs to learn more about the Universe. So early this millenium I started again to dig in deeper into really interesting things like our chances about practical interstellar spaceflight and life in the Universe. My notices tell me that it was the 2nd July 2004 when the name peregrinus interstellar was born, which I now use for my celestial wanderings. (The term “peregrinus” means “wanderer”, “stranger”, or “alien” and
originates from ancient Rome, denoting people not having Roman rights.
It is also the root for the word “pilgrim”. In Hungarian, the word
“peregrinus” was also used in earlier times to mean a wandering student.)
Now, almost six years later, I am involved in several projects; from these I’ve chosen One kilo message and Mosaic Earth to tell a bit more about, because they are tied both to the movie Contact and to that starry night at Lake Balaton.
Looking at the stars, I always enjoy the beauty of the heavens, and, as many others, often pause for a moment to think about our place in the Universe and on how I can share my thoughts with the people, perhaps in a way designed to last for a longer time. It is then not that giant leap to realize that these thoughts are closely related to create a message in a bottle like the Pioneer plaque or Voyager’s Golden Record. The questions
- How to represent humanity and Planet Earth?
- How will others perceive our message?
- Which material/medium to choose for the message?
and the search for answers give us a good opportunity to
think about possible consequences of a contact with the receiver – or sender – of such message as well. An issue, which was discussed pretty intensively in the media recently, thanks to a Royal Society conference in January.
Even if we don’t know whether we shall ever encounter extraterrestrial life like in Contact or otherwise, pondering about these questions offers the chance for the general audience and especially the youth to stop for a moment and to think out of the box.
One kilo message is about to design and build a time capsule
of (round) 1 kg content, which could even possibly be ready to fly on board
of a future deep space mission. The effort to answer the questions raised above and to create such a message in bottle may bring out a sense of „human community“ – so I believe this
project is a good candidate for outreach, coupled with educational value. We will build a network of projects, appropriate for secondary school students, with the pilot being prepared right now in Kiel, Germany.
Hand in hand with One kilo message goes Mosaic Earth which builds Earth images like the famous Blue Marble, as a mosaic composition – from portraits of people participating in the project. We hope Mosaic Earth will become an emblem of Faces from Earth to represent our home planet, with all our diversity and unity at the same time, and will be part of our messages in a bottle, as a kind of visiting card, on future deep space missions.
To send a message to a hypothetical E.T. happens to be a very deeply human endeavour.