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National Editorials & Columns

Planet Earth’s inevitable swan song

There are two ticking time bombs floating around out there in space and traveling at breakneck speeds. They are called Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 and at night I lie awake in bed too afraid to close my eyes because of their mere existence.

Commissioned in 1977, Voyagers 1 and 2 were sent into space by NASA with the optimistic hopes that they would be discovered by an unidentified alien life form. Contained on each space probe is a gold record that, essentially, would reveal a slice of our life on this planet when played. For all intents and purposes the records should be titled the Cliff Notes on Planet Earth.

Never mind the fact that a 1970s era record is an atrocious first impression to make with someone — or something. What I really worry about is how those records could quite literally endanger all of humanity in the near or distant future if they fall into the wrong, three-fingered hands

How does it endanger us all? Each record contains enough cursory information about the human race and our planet to allow an alien intelligence to create an invasion playbook to either enslave or kill us all.

For all we know aliens exist, but you know what? Maybe, just maybe, they don’t know that we do. Perhaps they have no clue about us. Good, I’d very much like to keep it that way. We are like the mouse under the bookcase. It is nice here, comfortable even. We don’t need to announce our attendance, lest we jeopardize our own existence and tempt our extinction.

Can you imagine if it actually works? Did any of those pencil-pushing eggheads at NASA ever consider that possibility?

Let’s say aliens end up finding it. Aliens are going to take one look at that record the same way anyone under 40 years old would. They are going to have no idea what it is, does, or was ever used for. An alien is going to think, “What is this thing? Maybe I should eat it?” I like to think that an alien race that has figured out the mysterious intricacies of space travel, starship mechanics and navigating galaxies won’t have any idea what a crude piece of antiquated “technology” like a record is.

Even if they do, I doubt aliens will just so happen to have a record player on board.

God forbid aliens find the records and figure out our encoded missives.

It doesn’t take an alien rocket scientist to quickly deduce from the records that our civilization is sorely unprepared for an alien invasion. If aliens exist and are exploring the universe, we can deduce it isn’t just because they want a scenic view of the ever-expanding universe.

In all likelihood, the aliens will be in search of something.

And Earth offers an awful lot of cool things aliens might want, like gold, for instance. I imagine that, if ever found, aliens are going to inspect this strange material the records are made out of. They are going to say, “Hey, this metal looks precious. Says here it’s called gold. We don’t have this mesmerizing metal on our planet. You know what? I bet if we went there, to this Earth place, they would have more of this stuff.”

Each gold record is a treasure map of the Milky Way galaxy.

The records are also inscribed with a greeting from President Jimmy Carter. That’s also a horrible idea. When the aliens come to invade us they will inevitably assume Jimmy Carter is the president of Earth. Why not? His name is on the gold records. So they will want to speak to Jimmy about all of this, which is terrible for us because we all know how well Carter can negotiate, don’t we?

And for those of you who think I am joking around here, I’m being dead serious. This is a real concern for me and President Obama needs to get involved instead of worrying around about ObamaCare and releasing terrorists.

I certainly hope that I am incorrect. But I’m afraid that if those records fall into the wrong hands then humanity has played its final tune.

To contact Will E. Sanders email him at To learn more about Will E. Sanders, to read past columns or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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