Last evening’s University Challenge threw up a question, which I only half caught as I was in the kitchen preparing supper, and that I (consequently?) got wrong. Something like, Which Beatles’ song… has been transmitted… into space…? My immediate response was All You Need is Love, which they performed for the first ever live satellite link-up broadcast, or some such, in 1967, and thus has a 41-year (albeit direction-less) head start on the correct answer – Across the Universe – which was beamed away earlier this year towards the North Star.
I used to live in Newcastle, and recall being in a pub watching that (real) city’s football team, playing Middlesbrough, ‘live’ on Sky TV, amused by how images of a then planetoidal Gazza were being broadcast from a location just a mile-and-a-half away, but reaching my senses via a satellite in space. But not all the signal will have been received, amplified and re-directed back to earth. Some of it is still electromagnetically radiating ‘out there’, among all the other stuff.
Yoko attempted gravitas: “I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe.” However, being as how this planet has been crackling away like an interstellar beacon for some time now, one could say that process has long since been underway. Inverse square law vs. non-attenuating vacuum considerations aside, communication requires something sophisticated enough to be able to receive and discern it. And if the recipients are that advanced, I imagine they’ll likely already be well familiar with The Beatles, and may well, like me, ask, ‘Why did they choose that one, then? (‘Across the Universe’, yeah, bit obvious.) I’d have plumped for I Am the Walrus meself. Or they might have used Bowie’s version, which is better’. And they’ll also have footage of Gazza at his best.