NASA’s Message-In-A-Bottle: The Interstellar Constellation
The picture above represents one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever done.
Here’s a short thought experiment and story:
Somewhere one day a person, who may or may not be somewhat like you, might be looking through their telescope.
They might see something strange, approaching the planet.
They contact the authorities.
A mission is conceived to rendezvous with the object.
Astronauts carefully seal the mysterious asteroid in a large container and bring it back to the planet for scientists to study.
The whole world would be tense, waiting for news to break of what this strange thing is.
Its enigmatic shape gives it away as almost certainly not being natural.
Finally a nervous person approaches the media and crowds outside the lab.
With a shaking hand the person wipes sweat from their brow. They look up briefly before speaking, as if half expecting something to be there.
“The asteroid… is not from the solar system. It hurtled here at great speeds from a distant star.
It’s old. We’re not sure yet how old, but it’s clearly been a long time since it was home.
Inside the asteroid is a golden disc. We’ve managed to remove the disc. It has markings… and sounds etched into it.”
It was a little longer before the contents of the disc were deciphered. The scientists realized that the strange 14-branches of lines on the disc were binary. Yes or no. The simplest language in the universe, and a mathematical one.
A language that might be used to communicate with cosmic neighbors.
Across countless years and an unimaginable gulf of empty darkness, something was telling us, “Yes, yes, yes, no, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, no, yes, yes, no, yes, yes, no…”
But yes to what? No to what?
The media exploded when an astronomer announced the binary series and the lengths of the branches corresponded exactly to the fingerprint-like beacons of 14 pulsars.
Around the world researchers mapped out where the center of the constellation should be, where the center of the 14 branches from their perspective night sky was.
They knew almost immediately but didn’t want to believe.
The star in the center of the constellation, the place where this message came from…
A news anchor looked into a camera, a somber look on their face:
“Astronomers have triangulated the location of the alien spacecraft. It came from a distant star which you can see in your telescopes. It’s the large red one.
It’s pretty to us but was a very different sort of star when this message was sent to us. Our space telescopes have confirmed that there’s a rocky planet in orbit around the star… there’s no atmosphere on it now as the star’s growth has boiled away any atmosphere there might have been.
Could those aliens still be alive somehow? Did they survive the incineration of their home?
As much as we ask these questions all we’ve got are the recordings they left on a sturdy golden record.
When played we hear strange sounds in an alien tongue. Deciphered, the recording reads,
A few decades ago, NASA, working with Dr. Carl Sagan compiled a golden record to go aboard the Voyager spacecrafts.
Voyager 1 launched from Earth in 1977. It left the solar system and entered interstellar space in 2013.
In 1 billion years, that golden record will still be readable and the sounds engraved thereon still readable.
NASA used the unique, lighthouse-like rhythms of specific pulsars to generate a map, a sort of interstellar constellation that, no matter where in the Milky Way you are, will always point to our Sun at the center.
It’s a beautiful message. For a billion years the sounds of children speaking across the universe will survive. For a billion years the sounds of a heartbeat of someone in love will be carried from star to star.
That heartbeat, that love, will flow across the cosmos for a billion years.
For a billion years our interstellar message-in-a-bottle will drift among the current of starlight, perhaps until one day a person, who may or may not be somewhat like you, might look through their telescope and see a strange asteroid drifting towards their planet…
At what age do we teach children that beauty is more important than any other quality? I distinctly remember being in 5th grade and people told me I had the best personality and that made me feel really good about myself until I told my mom. She told me that wasn’t really a compliment because it wasn’t about my appearance and that made me feel so insecure about myself. That’s when I started comparing myself to every other girl in my grade. That’s when I started pinpointing every flaw I had. That’s when my self-confidence completely vanished. That’s when I decided I’d be the funny fat friend to avoid people bullying me for being overweight and not one of the pretty girls. I don’t blame my mom because had she not made that comment, the media would have made it eventually. It’s just really sad to look back to 11 year old me and remember how much I hated myself. I was such an outgoing child but the minute my self-confidence began to drop, I was no longer as outgoing as I had been. I was afraid people would reject me for the way I looked so I chose to not let that happen. That’s why I have social anxiety today. The thought of trying to talk to a stranger and having them reject me makes me feel ill. I hope that if I ever have children they don’t ever have to feel what I felt.
So there was this guy on set of the show I work on and he started having an argument with someone and my friend was right there and he was saying that gay people should be killed and stoned and saying in Brazil that they killed and stoned gay people and drag them out on the street and said that’s what they should do to gay people and I got so freaked out I didn’t even want to be in the room with him I started crying so we told the people in charge (that love me) and this dude was doing other stuff too and just did not need to be on set and they had him escorted out with A security guard for treating gay people and everyone clapped as they took him out of the room then the PA (production assistant assistant) who loves me gave me and my 2 friends a large chocolate chip cookie to cheer us up and honestly it was the best
My friends aren’t even gay and they were just as upset as I was and I felt really supported I just thought I should share this story of how Society can actually be decent even though there’s always going to be an asshole out there
Taylor has finally gave in and started using the dating app her friends have set her up with. She unexpectedly meets Calvin who already has the ability to make her smile and feel better which is something she hasn’t had in a long time but Taylor isn’t sure what his intentions with her are. Is he worth taking a chance on or will she shy out of the possibility of meeting up with him to see where things could possibly go?
“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
Today was the day! You were finally going to see your boyfriend after months and months of missing him and you couldn’t be more excited. You and Calum had been dating for almost a year. In fact, next week was your one year anniversary, which was the reason you were flying out to go and see him. You had been saving for the trip for about a month and even though Calum had offered to pay for your plane ticket you wanted to pay for it yourself instead. You had been completely packed since last week, but had repacked at least four times since. But now, it was three hours until your flight took off. The U.S part of their tour began in Las Vegas so that’s where you had decided you would meet him. You would then stay with him and the boys on tour for another two weeks before you flew back home. Calum wanted you to stay through the entire rest of the tour but due to different credits you needed at school you unfortunately couldn’t afford to stay any longer than two weeks. But that wasn’t going to stop you from seeing him completely. You were tired of only being able to hear his voice through static filled phone calls and see his face through your laptop screen. You wanted to feel his arms around you and hear him whisper in your ear how much he loves you. You missed him so much it hurt and you were ready to have him back again even if it was only for a short while.
The sound of a shrill car horn brought you back from your thoughts. Excitedly, you slung your duffel bag over your shoulder and hurried out the door to the awaiting taxi. Two hours later, you were seated on the airplane that would take you to Las Vegas, headphones in and ready to sit through the long flight, having opted to wear a comfy tee shirt and leggings for the trip, wanting to avoid discomfort on the plane ride. The chime of the seat belt sign went off signaling that the plane was about to start moving so quickly before you would lose a signal you texted Calum to let him know you were taking off.
Hey babe, just taking off. Be there soon! :)x
Nestling further back in your seat, you closed your eyes and let the rhythm of the music in your headphones take you away.
You were jolted awake by the sound of the captain’s voice.
“Good afternoon everyone and thank you for flying with us. On behalf of all the crew here we hope you have a fantastic stay in Las Vegas.”
Once the plane came to a complete stop and the seatbelt light was off, you gathered your belongings and made your way off the plane. You took a breath of fresh air as you exited and followed the signs to pick up your bags. Switching your phone back on, you saw that you had a text from Calum.
Do you want me to pick you up?
Looking around you saw that a small group of girls had begun to notice your presence. Being the girlfriend of a band member had its perks, but you never really liked all the attention. You knew that the moment Calum arrived here it would be mayhem, so you decided you would call for a taxi instead of subjecting both him and you to mobbing. Dialing the number to the yellow cab service, you requested that someone be here to pick you up and he said he would be here in fifteen minutes. Heading out to grab your bag, you noticed a small pack of girls trailing after you, some with their phones out and obviously taking pictures. You were just about to call Calum when you felt someone tap your shoulder. Turning around, you saw a girl who looked to be about fifteen.
“You’re Y/N right?” “Uh, yeah I am.” You smiled at the girl. “Aren’t you Calum Hood’s girlfriend?” “I guess you could say that, yeah.” You chuckled. “Is he here?” “No, he’s busy with all the tour and album stuff you know.” “Is the album coming out soon?” “I keep telling him to kick it in high gear, but it’s not my decision. I know it’s going to be good though.” You told her. “I know it will be too” The girl beamed. “Can I, uh, maybe get a picture with you?” “Sure thing!” The girl snapped pulled out her phone and you leaned in, smiling as she snapped a picture. “Thank you so much! And uh, could you tell Calum I said hi and his music inspires me?” The girl looked down shyly. “Of course I will! I know he loves hearing about how much people love his music.” “Thank you!” You smiled at her before walking away and pulling your phone back out to call Calum. It rang four times before he answered, meaning he must be busy. “Y/N! Have you landed?” He sounded excited, which made you even more happy to see him.
“Yep, just landed and I’m at the airport!”
“Oh my God I cannot wait to see you. Can I come pick you up?”
“It’s okay, I called for a taxi and they’re supposed to be here any minute.”
“Babe! Why’d you do that? I thought I would pick you up!” You could practically hear his frown.
“Because there are already a bunch of fans here and I know you don’t have the energy to fight through a crowd right now.”
“But I miss you.”
“And I’ll be there in like twenty minutes babe, don’t worry! I’m a big girl.”
“Alright but you better hurry. We’re almost finished recording for the day which means we’ll have the rest of the day to spend time with each other.”
“Ugh I can’t wait to see you! But I have to hang up now, I see my bags on the belt.”
“Okay, I love you and I’ll see you soon.”
“I love you too Cal.” You hung up, grabbed your bag, and found the taxi you had been looking for.
The driver looked to be about forty. His hair was slicked back and fit the Vegas cab driver pretty much to a tee. His nametag read ‘Bernie’ and he looked like driving a cab was the last thing he wanted to do. “Where you goin’ hon?” He asked in a gruff voice. Where were you going? You had completely forgotten to ask Calum which hotel he was staying at. You tried to remember the arena he was playing thinking that maybe the driver could take you there and Calum could pick you up but you blanked on the name.
“Uh, what’s the name of the arena here.” “There are a lot of arenas here sweetheart, this is Vegas not Kansas.” Bernie spoke in an irritated tone. “Um, what about a recording studio.” You spoke shakily. “Well which one?” He rolled his eyes. “Uh, can you just take me to the closest one.” Maybe you would get lucky and it would be the same one. Or maybe Calum could pick you up at whichever one you were dropped at. “You got it.” Before you even had a chance to buckle in, the cab lurched forward and you and all of your belongings were thrown forward. “Could you please put your seatbelt on?” Bernie huffed. “Yeah sorry.” Your cheeks turned red as you scrambled to strap yourself and all your stuff in, which you were glad you did because the ride wasn’t the smoothest.
Ten minutes later, the cab pulled up to a dilapidated building with a plastic sign stuck in the dead grass reading “Lyncher Records”. You were sure this couldn’t be the place.
“Are you paying with cash or card? Bernie looked at you expectantly.
“Uh, cash I think, hang on.” You fumbled through your purse looking for your wallet.
“I don’t have all day hon.”
“I’m sorry, I’m looking, uh…” Your wallet wasn’t in your purse. How could it not be here? You had it in the airport, there’s no way you had lost it.
“Don’t tell me you’re broke.”
“I’m not broke, I just think I lost my wallet.”
“Get out.” He spoke bluntly.
“My boyfriend will be able to pay you when I see him, please can you take me to the next recording studio?”
“No money means no ride sweetcheeks, now get out of my cab.”
Sighing in defeat, you slung your bag over your shoulder and got out of Bernie’s cab before he sped away leaving you behind in his wake. You could feel tears come to your eyes as you realized that you were all alone in a really sketchy part of Las Vegas with no ride and no money. Pulling out your cell phone, you clicked on his contact to try and reach him for help.
“Call cannot be completed as dialed.” The monotone voice of the operator rang out. No service. Of course. Your last option was to go inside the rickety old recording studio and see if you could borrow a phone. Cautiously, you stepped up to the door and tried to turn the handle, but it was locked, so you precariously knocked on the door. Immediately it swung open and you were faced with a tall, muscular man with an unkempt beard and bloodshot eyes.
“Who are you?” His grizzly voice asked.
“Um, is Calum Hood here?” You tried to keep your voice strong, but this man made you uneasy.
“I’m the only one that lives here baby.” You cringed at the nickname.
“Wait, you live here? I thought this was a recording studio.” You were thoroughly confused that’s for sure.
“Honey, this stopped being a recording studio a long time ago. But if you’re looking to make some noise I’m sure I could be of service.” He looked you up and down and gave you a smirk and you began to back away from the door.
“N-no that’s okay, I was meeting my boyfriend at a recording studio and I guess I’m at the wrong one. Thanks, bye.” You turned around and took off down the dirt road in the direction that Bernie had gone, mentally cursing him for taking you to a “recording studio” that didn’t even exist anymore.
Finally, after about a half hour of walking you made it back to civilization, well if you could call it that. It was almost dark now, and it seemed you were in the shadier area of Vegas. Holding your head high, you continued through the city trying to ignore the awful noises coming from the dingy alleyways. All of a sudden you felt a presence behind you. Out of the corner of your eye you saw two figures that seemed to be following you, but at enough of a distance that they thought you wouldn’t notice. Terrified, you reached into your pocket to see if you had enough bars on your phone to call Calum and have him come to your rescue. Switching it on, you saw that you had nine new texts and six missed calls all from Calum.
Babe, it’s almost 7, where r u? I thought you said your plane had landed??? babe c’mon i miss you!!!! seriously y/n you’re scaring me where are you? please tell me you’re okay baby please respond y/n??????? I swear to god if you’re hurt… i’m coming to the airport to find you.
At least he was looking for you, but in a city this big it was unlikely that he would ever find you unless you called him. Since those texts had come in, it was clear your phone was finally able to call him. The men behind you lingered on, and you were praying that it was just a coincidence. If they tried something it was unlikely you would be able to fight off both of them at once and equally unlikely that Calum would get here in time.
The phone buzzed in your ear as you waited for Calum to pick up.
“Y/N oh my god! Are you okay? Where have you been! We’ve looked everywhere where are you?” His voice was filled with panic.
“I’m sorry Cal, I wasn’t sure where to meet you and so I told the cab driver to take me to the nearest recording studio but I lost my wallet and so he left me at this awful place and I didn’t have service and I had to walk all the way here and it’s getting dark and there are really creepy men behind me and I think they might be following me and I don’t know where I am and…”
He cut you off. “Okay tell me what you’re next to, I’m coming to get you.” His voice was calmer now, but had a firm edge to it that calmed you a little as well.
“Um, I see a bar on the left, and…I think it’s a strip club on the right.” You tried to remain composure while you were on the phone with him, but the presence of the men behind you was flipping you out and you just wanted Calum here.
“Darling, I need you to be a little more specific.”
“It’s Al’s Bar to my left and…”
“Okay I know right where you are. The tour bus drove through there last night. Stay right where you are okay baby?” HIs voice sounded through the phone.
“Cal, what about the men following me?” You whispered so they wouldn’t hear and you heard Calum take a sharp breath.
“Baby listen to me, I want you to keep walking forward okay? But cross the street and speed up a little and see if they follow you. Stay calm baby, you’re so brave and you’re going to be okay. I’ll be there soon okay.” His voice was soothing and you immediately did as he told you, looking both ways and briskly crossing over to the other side of the sidewalk.
“Calum will you please stay on the line with me? I just…I need to hear your voice right now.” You choked out.
“Of course baby, just keep walking forward and I’ll be there soon.”
Suddenly, you heard a loud whistle come from close behind you.
“Hey baby, no need to run away. Does the kitten wanna come over and play?”
You whipped your head around and saw that the two men had crossed the street and were now only about ten feet away from you.
“I don’t have any money and my boyfriend will be here soon. Leave me alone.” You told them in a firm voice and you could hear Calum beginning to panic on the other line.
“Aw don’t be like that baby. We just want to have some fun.” The other man slurred. Clearly they were drunk, but a few other men had joined them making you even more uneasy.
“Don’t come near me.” You spat, trying to appear strong.
“I’m almost there baby, just a little longer. Run if you need to okay?” Calum’s voice whispered.
“Don’t be a bitch.” The men spat as they advanced towards you.
“Baby, run!” Calum yelled, as he was able to hear the commotion. Immediately you turn tail and ran down the street, forward so that Calum would be able to find you. “I’m almost there, oh my god please be safe, I’m almost there.”
You ran as fast as you could, but your bag on your back was slowing you down tremendously. You could hear sound of the men running and shouting obscenities at you. Luckily most of them were intoxicated, but you could feel them gaining. You didn’t think you had ever been so terrified in your life, but you did as Calum told you and ran forward, praying that he would get here soon, but the click on the other end of the line made your heart sink. The call had disconnected.
“Aye, kitten wait up!” The men shouted behind you. You craned your neck to look behind you and saw that luckily only the one guy was sprinting after you and that the rest were far behind, much too drunk to run.
Up ahead you could see there was a dead end and you panicked. If you weren’t running forward, how would Calum find you? Hoping for the best, you made a hard turn at the next intersection. Rounding the corner blindly, you ran smack into a hard chest. Arms reached out to steady you, and when you caught your breath and looked up you were met with a pair of warm, chocolate eyes.
“Calum!” You cried, throwing your arms around his neck. His strong arms encompassed your whole body and pulled you impossibly close to him.
“You’re safe now baby, I’m here it’s okay.”
“I-Is that man still chasing me.” You stuttered.
“No, he’s gone baby. He saw your big strong boyfriend and figured he shouldn’t fuck with me. Or you.” He teased.
“Okay good. How did you find me?”
“I had to retrace some steps, but I knew where the bar was and I was already almost here. You should’ve just let me pick you up.” He furrowed his eyebrows together, giving you an ‘I told you so’ look.
“Alright, alright you were right. But just this once.” You chuckled and Calum kissed the top of your head.
“Let’s get you to the car, okay?” Calum grabbed your bag from your shoulders, heaving it onto his own and kept his arm around your waist, holding you close. He helped you inside the black SUV that he had driven to come a find you before buckling himself in and driving away from the nightmare you were in mere moments before.
“I was so worried about you. All alone in sin city, my poor little girl.” He confessed.
“You sounded pretty calm over the phone. Honestly, it made me calm too. You’re my rock Cal.” You leaned over and kissed his shoulder that was exposed under the tank top he was wearing.
“I’ll always protect you baby girl. I love you so much and whenever you need me I will be here for you. I love you so much and I would die if anything happened to you.”
“I love you Calum.”
“I love you more.”
As the light turned red, he leaned over and gave you a sweet kiss on the lips. “I’ve missed those lips. We’ve got a long night ahead of us babe.” He winked at you and you playfully shoved his arm before entwining your fingers with his and kissing his hand. “This is going to be an amazing week.”
Hi everyone. Caitlyn here. First of all, I want to thank you all for your support. The response to my new journey has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m eternally grateful for all of your sweet messages, letters, and gifts.
Up until now, I have totally isolated myself from the transgender community so I have a lot of catching up to do. I feel such a responsibility to this courageous group to try to get it right and tell all sides of the story. To me, that’s always the biggest question: am I doing it right?
A few weeks ago I had dinner with some of my new friends — a group of six trans women — and I went around the table and asked each of them how long it had been since their transitions. One said 20 years, the other one said 15 years ago…seven years ago…three years ago… They came around to me and I said, “Two weeks.”
Flash forward a few weeks and I’ve already learned so much about this community, the issues, and the people involved. It’s been an eye-opening experience for me — mainly realizing how fortunate I am.
I’ve heard every horror story there is in the book. You wouldn’t believe the types of ordeals these people have had, how they have had to literally fight for their own survival. Many trans teens are bullied and abused in high school. It’s just horrendous. Then there’s the other dark side of this issue: did you know that nearly 25% of the women in high-end sex business are reportedly trans women?
Seeing how my new friends have overcome their adversities is such an inspiration. They are so well-adjusted and smart. I’ll be sharing their stories here in the coming weeks and I can’t wait for you to get to know them. They are just like you and me.
This is the first in a series of editorials where I will discuss the serious issues and lessons that I am learning through this process. I have so much to discover and hope that you’ll join me on this adventure.
Let’s live our true selves and make a positive difference while doing
Alfred, have you talked to anybody about your relationship with Anya? Sometimes talking about the past can help you become more comfortable with it. >wob
Alfred: Anya…and I…we worked well together. We fought a lot, but we always got over it. We dated for two years, my freshman and sophomore years of college. Everyone thought we were perfect, but…she was clingy. And kind of selfish. Maybe a bit over-protective. But I didn’t want that to end it. We were good otherwise. Everyone expected us to get married, but we still hadn’t had sex. So I thought maybe after having intercourse, and this was after 2 years, mind you, we would be closer intimately and we could move further.
I was so wrong.
Sex with her was uncomfortable and didn’t feel right. There wasn’t any passion. And then I realized I was gay. I thought I had been for a while, but this was the kicker. I told her the next day at school and…she beat me up. Got us both kicked out right at the end of finals.
And that was the end of it. But it still kind of haunts me. We haven’t had contact for years.
I don’t know if this will work with everyone, but for years I often had trouble eating or eating a lot of food when I went out someplace.
My trouble was with all the Umami they put in food, stuff like MSG and other things that give food a savory taste. Anyways a couple years back I found that our Umami taste buds react to Glutamate which is a chemical found in MSG, ketchup, etc.
Often times if one does not have enough Magnesium in their diet these Glutamate receptors get overloaded.
I have a deficiency in Magnesium, but I hadn’t thought much about it till I discovered this little tidbit. Now I just eat some magnesium rich yogurt and surprise! I can eat a lot better now! :D
I’m not saying it would work for everyone but it doesn’t hurt either.
I just wanted to share this bit of information so others could know. It might help. ^^;