For almost a half-century now, humanity has been on a noble quest to probe the deepest reaches of space, make contact with alien life forms and apparently annoy and confuse the hell out of them.
The heyday of earth’s efforts to bafflingly announce its presence was the 1970s. Early that decade, the spacecrafts Pioneer 10 and 11 were fitted with gold plaques that featured anatomically accurate renderings of a male and female human. The man, smiling and pantless, was waving in a friendly manner. I raise this only to support my prediction that when the case of Abducted Hillbilly v. UFO is finally heard by the Intergalactic Supreme Court, the ruling will be that we pretty much asked for all that anal probing.
The pursuit of contact continued in 1974, when the Arecibo radio telescope was used to broadcast a signal that displayed a human stick figure crudely made from huge, chunky pixels. The message was clear: cower, alien creatures, and stand in awe of a civilization that stands on the very cusp of inventing Pong.
Three years later, Voyager I and II were dispatched into space. Inside each probe: a golden record album. That’s right, one full-length golden LP—the theory being that any alien race worth contacting would be able to supply its own turntable and bong. Earlier this year, these probes finally became the fourth and fifth human artifacts to exit the solar system, after Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11 and Clay Aiken, who had for years been desperately fleeing gay thoughts. (They caught up.)
It was shortly after the Voyager launches that the people of earth realized they might be coming on a little strong. Humanity was acting like a desperate guy at last call—sending out signals in every direction. Wisely, we took a planetary chill pill.
But suddenly things are worse than ever. In the age of the Internet, the ability to embarrass our civilization in alien eyes has been democratized. All it takes to beam a message into space these days is a computer, a credit card and the belief that because no one on earth cares what you think, then the moon men might.
Just this month, Bebo.com, a social networking site popular among teenagers, arranged to have more than 500 images and text messages transmitted into deep space. The signal was aimed at a planet known as Gliese 581C, which was selected because scientists believe it is capable of supporting life, though probably not the kind that cares about your favourite band, dude.
For a more personal experience, there’s Sent Forever—a website that insists there’s no event too insignificant to announce to the universe. Are you getting married? Is it your birthday? Did you remember to put out the garbage? Tell eternity about it! For just $20, Sent Forever will ensure “your message [will] travel through space forever.” Why limit your influence to your immediate family when you could be boring an entire star cluster?
(Interestingly, the Sent Forever home page features photos of a bride and groom, a little baby and an elderly couple. These are there either to depict critical elements of the human experience or as a secret message to invading aliens describing the order in which we should be eaten.)
For those who want to lend a more personal touch, there is Endless Echoes—an Internet company that transmits voice messages into the depths of space. For $25, you get a one-minute message along with a Certificate of Broadcast, a Distance Chart and a picture of the website’s owner rolling around on a bed covered with the money of idiots like you.
What’s unique about Endless Echoes is that it also claims to be able to deliver messages beyond the grave. In fact, the website features a picture of a sad little boy and the words, “When you never had a chance to say ‘goodbye.’ ” Classy. When the nebula monkeys arrive to lay waste to planet earth, here’s hoping they save the biggest, curviest banana probe for the people at Endless Echoes.
If a one-minute voice message to your deceased goldfish is just not going to cut it, relax. Blog in Space is the first entity to allow everyday bloggers to inflict their tortured, self-obsessed musings upon defenceless asteroids. Thanks to Blog in Space’s access to a “powerful deep space transmission dish,” it is now entirely possible that an alien civilization’s first inkling of earth’s existence will come in the form of a suburban mother’s 6,000-word rhapsody about the texture of her baby’s poop.
Alarmingly, there is no method of monitoring the content of these messages, meaning human existence is now threatened not only by nuclear war and global warming but by the intergalactic equivalent of drunk dialing. I’ve got a few things to get off my—hic!—chest about you space lizards . . .
Here comes the invasion. Time to take off our pants and wave, men.