Way back in 1977, NASA launched their inspirational Voyager missions. These unmanned spacecraft, taking advantage of the alignment of the planets in our solar system performed their job of exploration to near perfection, in a day where the cutting-edge computers that guided them still filled a room, and there were a mere three television channels here in the UK.
Thirty seven years later these machines still race ever further into the unknown,having left our solar system, they are now in interstellar space with nothing more than the theories of Sir Isaac Newton in the driving seat, remaining the fastest and furthest travelled machines ever invented by man. A tribute to some of the greatest visionaries and intellects that were focused on that irrepressible human desire, exploration.
What relevance has this got to do with messages in bottles you may ask? Allow me to explain. Both Voyager craft had a gold-plated copper disc affixed to them with sounds and images of planet earth, an analogue message in the known languages of mankind using the best technology available at the time. The spacecraft are of course the bottle, the means by which the messages is conveyed.
In about 40,000 years, give or take, these cosmic messages in a bottle will arrive at the shore of another solar system together with their messages; the prophetic visions and the expectant wishes of mankind in 1977. Perhaps some cosmic beachcomber will find the “bottles”. Perhaps and in all likelihood they will never be found. Maybe there is no-one out there to find them.
I think that you can see where I’m coming from now.
On an infinitely smaller scale a message in a bottle is launched with similar expectation, the final destination and fate as unknown as those of the Voyager craft. They are written in the language known only to the author. Will the message and hopes contained therein remain un-discovered for eternity, drifting perpetually in the vastness of the unknown ether into which it was cast? Will it arrive on a shore and not ever have the gaze of a sentient creature pass over it? Will, as is most likely, the messages out-live mankind even? Bearing in mind that some messages in bottles are found long after the demise of the author. Will some hitherto only imagined being find the visionary message and pour over it desperately trying to understand the contents?
By an amazing co-incidence, on the anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1 ( 20th August) we found two carefully prepared messages in bottles, possibly as un-intelligible to the imaginary being finding the cosmic message, as these Earthly ones are to us. Today using the power of the internet, inconceivable in 1977, we still could not decypher or understand the messages, even though they are written in an earthly dialect. Unlike Voyager there is no map showing the launch site or the identity of authors of the respective messages.
I wish a continued "Bon voyage" to the Voyager craft on their cosmic odyssey. In the hour or so that it has taken me to write this they will have travelled about 39,000 miles further into the unknown.
So intrigue and co-incidence abound, and I draw this analogy by virtue of the date involved and a degree of empathy for the being that might find the cosmic messages. Is there a star man, (or woman), here on earth that can help us with these ones?
May your God go with you.