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Have You Eaten Yet?

Greetings sent in Chinese to outer space on 1977 Voyager missions

Recently, scientists at NASA discovered seven Earth-sized planets just about 40 light-years away from us, three of them are situated in a habitable zone. Findings like this one make one wonder if this means that we’re a step closer to contacting intelligent life elsewhere.

While today many scientists don’t see it as a priority, it has crossed the mind of few people that perhaps we should take the initiative and sending them a message. Fortunately for most of us, exactly 40 years ago, experts have already sent a compilation of sounds and images to the unknown cosmos.

As part of the 1977 Voyager Program, American scientists launched a spacecraft that contained a recording of images and sounds from various cultures on planet Earth.


The Golden Record [Wikicommons]

The Golden Record, named for its gold-plated copper construction, contains greetings in 55 languages out of which four are different varieties of spoken Chinese. Here’s what the recordings say:

Wu: Best wishes to you all.

Cantonese: Hi. How are you? Wish you peace, health, and happiness.

Mandarin: Hope everyone’s well. We are thinking about you all. Please come here to visit when you have time.

Minnan: Friends of space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time.

In addition to greetings in different languages and a salute from the then-Secretary General of the UN, Kurt Waltdheim, the Golden Record contains sounds of the planet that go from thunder to human laughter.

Music has also been included into the recorded material. China included a masterpiece by Bo Ja, a guqin player from the first half of the Zhou dynasty approximately dating back to 700 B.C. It’s called “Liu Shui” or “Flowing Streams” (流水)—have a listen:

If the message was to be sent today, what would you include?


Cover photo from Baidu


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