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The United States launched two spacecraft for exploring the universe in 1972 and 1973, named Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. Both had plaques attached somewhere on the outside in the event that the spacecrafts might be seen by someone somewhere else. The plaques were supposed to give visual information about people (or earthlings, shall we say). The plaques weren't very big, about 6x9 inches, and were made of gold-anodized aluminum.
As you probably know, there were two images on the plaque, a man and a woman, which I don't think anyone has ever called a "couple." But they are both nude, in all their bare glory. I understand that the plaque was there at the suggestion of Carl Sagan and that the images were drawn by his wife.
My question is, would such images appear on something like that today?
Somehow I doubt it and even then (45 years ago!), they were a little controversial. Neither figure has body hair and some details are not that sharp but make no mistake, they are clearly nude. Both figures are fairly fit-looking and neither too fat nor too thin. The man's hair probably could be taken as a 1970s hair style, same with the woman's, more or less. The two figures are probably in their 30s and could really be almost any race, given the simple outline drawings.
Even though, as I mentioned, it is doubtful that such shocking images would be allowed on a spacecraft where extraterrestrials might see them and imagine that's what they would see if they visited earth, it makes you wonder. Many large cities, Salt Lake City no doubt excepted, abound with statues of nude people in various degrees of exposure. Washington, D.C., is no exception. In fact, there are gigantic statures of a nude man and woman on both sides of the D.C. end of the Memorial Bridge (next to the Lincoln Memorial. Both statues are of a nude man on horseback and a mostly nude woman standing beside them. For what it's worth, there is only one statue in D.C. of a woman on horseback and it's of Joan of Arc, who is wearing armor.
Anyway, whether or not such a depiction would be allowed today, it is still interesting to speculate on what the figures might look like. The figures on the plaque have roughly classic proportions like Greek statues, although the hair is different. Were such images created, say, in the 1890s, the man would probably look the same but have a mustache and shorter hair. The woman would have more curves (definitely a smaller waist) and her hair would be worn "up." Today the man might look more athletic and have short hair while the woman would also look thinner and more athletic. But I don't know about her hair.
Just something to think about.
I’m not so sure about that. See the diagrams on the Pioneer plaques here:
and see similar announcements of our existence on Golden Records on Voyager 1 and 2 here:
This was a scientific project. Most scientists tend to be objective, especially when discussing the actual project. Scientists know that in order to describe an object you must use precise language. Since we cannot speak to them, photos, pictograms or diagrams that do the same make the most sense.
You may have a point though, if such an effort were outside the scientific community. I couldn’t see that community being squeamish about nudity. The drawings look like sketches from a medical journal or textbook. I’ve seen those as my mother was an RN and kept all her textbooks and literature from her career.
There have been objections to the plaques that discuss whether we should be advertising our location to unknown space aliens. The fact that Steven Hawking has raised concerns about that is telling. He raises questions about that here:
The star looking diagram on all of them is a 3D description of where we are based on our location on a pulsar map. It shows the location of the solar system with respect to 14 pulsars, whose precise periods are given. Any civilization capable of space travel would know how to interpret that diagram. It’s mathematics, the so called universal language.
You could be right if the images had been hi-res full frontal photos of naked adults. Sketches that look like lab drawings probably would still be ok today.
But, then again I am amazed weekly at things that happen these days!
Same here. Every morning I wake up wondering what will happen today. We live in interesting times.
As far as the plaque (images) being part of a scientific project, okay, but it doesn't stop there. Most people have so little scientific knowledge that they wouldn't bother meddling in the details. And the project costs so much, there wouldn't be any discussion about that, either. It's Parkinson's Law in action.
But I hadn't heard there was an objection on the basis of giving away our position. That's the ultimate paranoia if there ever was one.