The roadster got all the press, but the Falcon Heavy's dummy payload had a tiny additional payload, a digitized copy of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy etched onto a quartz disk designed to endure for millions of years.

Stephen Wolfram, a project advisor, provided a long reflection on the challenges of leaving a meaningful memento for an unknown posterity. It is hard enough for us to figure out what ancient human civilizations had in mind.

    A few years ago I was visiting a museum and looking at little wooden models of life in ancient Egypt that had been buried with some king several millennia ago. “How sad,” I thought. “They imagined this would help them in the afterlife. But it didn’t work; instead it just ended up in a museum.” But then it struck me: “No, it did work! This is their ‘afterlife’!” And they successfully transmitted some essence of their life to a world far beyond their own.

He describes the artificial structures most conspicuous from space, and the difficulty of distinguishing them from natural features.

There's a long critique of the various artifacts and messages and artifacts already sent into the cosmos, including many important signatures, dirty doodles, Lego toys, and a memorial sculpture "strangely reminiscent of the figurines we find in early archaeological remains."

Radio messages were beamed out, receiving no response, like lonely Hubski posts.

(Somewhere on Hubski, long ago, I left a comment with the Arecibo message in binary, which also got no response, and I am unable to find it now.)

So what should we send? Wolfram suggests that we might send a copy of Wolfram|Alpha, perhaps shedding light on the article title "Showing Off to the Universe." But he has plenty to show off: among the many browser tabs this article generated was a long footnote from A New Kind of Science which reminded me of a never-published trip report.



flagamuffin:

perhaps we have both been ponderously making our way through gwern's end of the year newsletter

or perhaps not

anyway, wolfram won me over as a writer with this post, the interest per square inch quotient was off the charts


posted by wasoxygen: 10 days ago