I’ve been following for the last few weeks, on Coursera, a very interesting course about human evolution. The incredibly difficult anthropological and genetic research, to find out about how we became human, is performed on basis of scant fossilized fragments of bones, sometimes pieces of stone tools and even calcified plaque on the fossilized teeth.
A whole hitherto unknown chapter of the history of Homo has been opened only recently, when thanks to cold climatic conditions in a remote Siberian cave, some insignificant bone fragments (tip of a pinky finger) have yielded good enough genetic material to let us discover a previously unheard of type of man, called Homo Denisova. The scientists have to attempt to reconstruct the anatomy, cognitive characteristics, area of activity, and the timeline of evolution of these beings, with practically only forensic tools. How much easier it could have been, if there were some documentary traces, a stone tablet, a book, a photograph?
In 1977 a spacecraft “Voyager” has been launched by NASA into the deep space, with a Golden Record, containing sound, video and other forms of encoded information, about who we are, how and where we live. Voyager will pass in a proximity of the next star in about 40.000 years, and who knows if this “message in a bottle” will ever be read by any intelligent being.
40.000 years??? Let’s have a look, what happened in 1977:
Elvis Presley died, Steve Jobs founded the Apple Computer, Jimmy Carter became president of the USA, and a cannibal named Jean-Bedel Bokassa crowned himself Emperor of the Central African Republic. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union held firm grip over half of Europe, and over the minds of millions of people worldwide. On a more hilarious note: Rover Sd1 was voted the car of the year.