This article appeared in the February 08, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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A song for Earth and the universe

Ben Margot/AP/File
The Allen Telescope Array, seen here in Hat Creek, California, in 2007, was designed from the outset to support SETI searches and dramatically expanded such work.

Can the SETI Institute, in a bid to send a message to the universe, send one to Earth’s residents as well?

That’s the hope of the Earthling Project, a collaboration of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute artist-in-residence Felipe Pérez Santiago, and the Arch Mission Foundation. At a moment when earthlings often raise their voices in divisive ways, the project invites “all humanity” to tell the universe who they are by raising their voices in a common language: song. 

It works like this: Everyone who calls the Blue Marble home can record themselves crooning up to three 30-second tunes via the Earthling Project app. Mr. Santiago, a musician and composer, will meld those voices together, and the resulting composition will be launched into space and distributed on Earth later this year. 

It’s reminiscent of the Golden Record, a project led by astrophysicist Carl Sagan and placed aboard the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. Then, the focus was the diversity of Earth, presented in a disc of images, natural sounds, and greetings in 55 languages. Sagan said “the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”

So too in 2021, as the Earthling Project’s scientists and artists invite people to join in musical tributes to their shared earthly address and humanity. “We face challenges that have to be solved by cooperating across the globe,” SETI co-founder Jill Tarter told The Economist.

“If we can send this unified message,” Mr. Santiago said, “our mission is accomplished.”

This article appeared in the February 08, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 02/08 edition
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