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"Beyond a thousand years from now humans are not quite recognizably human, and I have trouble finding characters."
- Larry Niven
||Metal Message In Space
||A message sent to other worlds, inscribed on metal.
This is the first instance of the idea of using some sort of very durable material (meta) to create a universally readable message sent physically across space to another race of beings.
|Nearly an hour later, the three scientists succeeded in removing the end of the metal cylinder. The delay was caused by the deep dent in the “cap," and this latter proved to be a solid piece of metal with a tapered neck, at the narrow end of which was a left-handed screw. At first glance they thought the cylinder empty, but a closer inspection revealed that there was an inner cylinder of some very thin metal. Withdrawing this, they were surprised to find that it was a rolled-up sheet of a thin, dark metal strange to them. Spreading this out with some difficulty, and holding it down with heavy paper weights, they proceeded to examine a variety of inscriptions with which it was covered.
(The message capsule from 'The Menace From Space' by John Edwards)
“Seems to have been rolled up some time, to judge from the spring in it," observed Haskell.
Morrison nodded. “That is not surprising, if it comes from the place I surmise.”
Bradbury, who had temporarily forgotten even his beloved red moss in this new development, looked at him inquiringly, but Morrison was concentrating upon the sheet of inscriptions. This was about eight inches wide, and had unrolled to a length of two feet or so. Near the left-hand edge as they looked at it was inscribed a disc which, from the multitude of rays emanating from it, might be taken to represent the sun. Very close to this was a tiny circle, while three slightly larger discs were shown at varying distances of a few inches. Extending across the full width of the right-hand end of the sheet, rvas a series of curved scratches upon which was super-imposed a vertical arrangement of strange letters. A similar series of vertical characters in several columns, and of smaller size, occupied the top left corner.
(The alien chart from 'The Menace From Space' by John Edwards)
Similar printing, if such it was, labeled each small disc.
Over all, on the left, right, top, and bottom of this strange “chart" were four great symbols which could be taken for nothing else but a variation of arrow-heads, indicating direction.
There was a dead silence for several minutes in the library, while each man formed his own conclusions about the queer chart before them. Then Morrison heaved a great sigh as he stood back from the table.
“There,” he said impressively, “you have a universal cryptogram — yet it is one which can be interpreted by any intelligent creature on any planet in the Solar System! The printing we cannot interpret straight away — but that matters little. The sketch is self-explanatory; that is, to anyone endowed with average intelligence.”
Bradbury snorted at this final piece of sarcasm, though his gray eyes twinkled. “You mean, doctor, that it is obvious to an astronomer, don’t you ? I quite see, of course, that this — er — cryptogram is in part a plan view of the inner planets of the Solar System. That, however, does not tell me where this thing comes from, nor can I make anything of those weird scratches to the right side. Sure you’ve got it the right way up ?”
|From The Menace From Space,
by John Edwards.
Published by Wonder Stories in 1934
Additional resources -
This is an early precursor to the Pioneer plaques:
The Pioneer plaques are a pair of gold-anodized aluminum plaques that were placed on board the 1972 Pioneer 10 and 1973 Pioneer 11 spacecraft, featuring a pictorial message, in case either Pioneer 10 or 11 is intercepted by intelligent extraterrestrial life. The plaques show the nude figures of a human male and female along with several symbols that are designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft.
(The Pioneer plaque)
The Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft were the first human-built objects to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The plaques were attached to the spacecraft's antenna support struts in a position that would shield them from erosion by interstellar dust.
The Pioneer plaque was also designed to have a special location that protected it from micrometeorite impacts:
(The Pioneer plaque protected from space debris)
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