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14 February 2011

Happy VD

In case anyone somehow managed to forget, today is Valentine's Day.  A made up holiday that is meant to commercialize and even in some ways cheapen the experience of love.  Hollywood and the media has turrned relationships into some sort of charicature that is unrealistic and totally unattainable.  Being married for almost 19 years at this point, I can attest to the fact that it takes committment, work, endurance, and a whole lot of effort to really make something work.  And it's never how you imagined it, even if you had realistic expectations.

That said, sometimes there seems to be some stories out there that just make you smile.  The story of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan is one such story!
This is a love story. And, oddly enough, it starts with an interstellar space mission and a golden record.

Toward the end of the summer of '77, NASA launched two spacecraft as part of the Voyager Interstellar Mission. On board each craft was a golden record that included, among other things, the sound of a kiss, a mother's first words to her newborn child, music from all over the world, and greetings in 59 different languages. The spacecraft were designed to take close-up pictures of Jupiter and Saturn, then continue into the great expanse of space beyond our solar system. The records on board were meant to survive for a billion years, in the hope that some day, against enormous odds, they might cross paths with an alien civilization.

So how do you decide what to put on the ultimate mix tape of the human experience? What do you do if you have one shot at describing humanity to an unknown life form? That was the charge of Carl Sagan — astronomer, astrophysicist and famed popularizer of science. Of course, Sagan had a lot of help, including the creative director of the project, Ann Druyan.
"It was a chance to tell something of what life on Earth was like to beings of perhaps 1,000 million years from now," Druyan says. "If that didn't raise goose bumps, then you'd have to be made out of wood."

For Druyan, though, the summer of 1977 and the Voyager project carry a deeply personal meaning, too. It was during the Voyager project that she and Sagan fell in love.

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