Tuesday, February 19, 2008

There's a Photo of You on the Moon Too!!!

In the 70's some astronaut left a family portrait on the moon. How cool would it be knowing that , whenever you looked up at the moon at night, there'd be a picture of you there looking back. Seriously cool.

Some company is now offering me (and you) this same 'once in a lifetime' chance. ... only this time it'll be a digital image of your family, along with ten trillion other strings of zeros and ones. And there not really even zeros OR ones- there just a long string of things that can be in one state or another- magnetic fields, pits in disc. Lets say it's a DVD or a Blu-Ray (kudos Sony) disc that gets dumped on the moon. Let's not consider it littering.

How cool would it NOT be -knowing that whenever you looked up at the moon at night, there'd be a series of microscopic pits in a disc that correspond to your family? Hmmm.

When i say 'correspond'- you'll of course need to know what format the image is in to actually decode it. Will it matter to you if it is a JPEG, a TIFF or a BMP? It should do- because that list of binary digits will need to be completely different. Otherwise it'll be like being a blind kid whose astronaut father leaves a photo on the moon: if you've never seen a photo, and never seen the moon- imagining both together is probably going to leave you less than satisfied.

Here's what i propose instead of all this- and it doesn't involve littering:

Since it is both the data and the format algorithm that TOGETHER generate 'meaning'.... why not use data that's already on the surface of the moon? Lets say you generate a long list of numbers that correspond to all the craters' diameters, longitude and latitude. You then convert these into a very long series of zeros and ones (or elephants and telephones).

Then, you hire an earthbound mathematician, and tell him to think up a complex equation, 'format' or algorithm that will convert your new data set into a beautiful 8 x 6 color portrait of your family.

Viola! There's a photo of you on the moon- and there always was.

OK- so there's also the complete works of Shakespeare and all your ex-girlfriends' telephone numbers- but that's not the point.

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