Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:


Feature - Washington DC-1




That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…


Voyager Golden Record

Voyager Golden Record

NASA uploaded selections from the ‘Golden Record‘ to SoundCloud on July 28, 2015.  There are actually two of these Golden Records, one aboard Voyager I which launched on September 5, 1977 and one aboard Voyager II which launched on August 20, 1977. Yes, Voyager II launched first, but Voyager I was launched on a shorter & faster trajectory. Both spacecraft were delivered to space aboard Titan-Centaur expendable rockets. They’ve been traveling for almost 40 years now, and quite far from Earth (see: Where are the Voyagers?), so if the original Golden Records are ever listened to again, it may be by extraterrestrials. The 12 inch Golden Records are actually gold-plated copper containing 116 analog-encoded photographs (Scenes from Earth), greetings in 55 languages (Greetings from Earth), a 12-minute montage of sounds of Earth (Sounds from Earth), and 90 minutes of music (Music from Earth). The record plays at 16 2/3 rpm, which is half the speed of a conventional (at that time) 33 1/3 LP record. The stepped-down spin rate caused some loss in fidelity, but was necessary to fit all the material on the record. This is the playback side and the other side (The Golden Record Cover) contains information on how to play the record, how to construct the images from the recorded signal, drawing of the location of our solar system with respect to 14 pulsars with well defined periods, and a sketch of the hydrogen atom. The record is also a kind of atomic clock, electroplated with uranium-238 so extraterrestrials can figure out the time since it was launched with an understanding of radioactive half-life. The record, mounted on the outside of the spacecraft is expected to last for eons, with only minor damage expected from micro meteorites over time.

Here are the SounCloud recordings NASA has made available for streaming:
Golden Record: Greetings to the Universe
Golden Record: Sounds of Earth

It’s not exactly anything that hasn’t been available to the public before and here is another website that plays the record – The Infinite Voyager: The Golden Record – but the NASA SoundCloud offers the list with titles to skip around if you like and listen to the clips you choose. You can also listen to other sound clips on the NASA SoundCloud site.

What else is on the record?
116 Images of the Voyager Golden Record
Golden Record – Explanation of Recording Cover Diagram

Further reading about the Voyager record:
The Voyager Golden Record
The Voyager Spacecraft Interstellar Record
The Message Voyager I Carries for Alien Civilizations
Who the Hell Can Understand the Voyager Disc’s User Manual?
Voyager I’s ‘Golden Record’ Contains Directions to Earth for Aliens

Voyager record team and documentation:
1.) The team that assembled the Golden Record was as led by Carl Sagan and included Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, Timothy Ferris, Jon Lomberg, and Linda Salzman Sagan.
2.) The definitive work about the Voyager record is “Murmurs of Earth” by Executive Director, Carl Sagan, Technical Director, Frank Drake, Creative Director, Ann Druyan, Producer, Timothy Ferris, Designer, Jon Lomberg, and Greetings Organizer, Linda Salzman. Basically, this book is the story behind the creation of the record, and includes a full list of everything on the record. “Murmurs of Earth”, originally published in 1978, was reissued in 1992 by Warner News Media with a CD-ROM that replicates the Voyager record. Unfortunately, this book is now out of print, but may be found through used booksellers.

Further reading about Voyager spacecraft:
Voyager: The Love Story
Is there an edge to the heavens?
Voyager I approaching edge of the solar system, scientists say
Confirmed: Voyager I in Interstellar Space
Interstellar Voyager

The Golden Record's location on Voyager (middle-bottom-left)

The Golden Record’s location on Voyager (middle-bottom-left)

Endnote: It has been pointed out that the chances of an alien civilization finding this probe in the vastness of the cosmos are infinitesimally small, and if it is ever found in the distant future it will likely be by mankind if technological advancement allows us to reach for the stars someday. Arthur C. Clarke, recognizing this possibility, suggested adding a note to the Golden Record, which simply read, “Please leave me alone; let me go to the stars.


As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:



That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…




In the beginning there was an idea to share information and seeds of the internet were born sometime in the 1960’s. Segue to the early 1990’s and there is altavista & webcrawler for search engines, no advertisements and the start of the internet for everyone. There were modems that worked over the telephone line and squealed their functionality with signature precision. They were slow, but the internet didn’t need speed back then as it was mostly text based information. Then it all began to change: AOL, Friendster, Myspace, Facebook and the people didn’t really want information, they wanted to socialize. That was the real revolution of the internet.


The Internet (c. 2007)



The Internet (c. 2010)



The Internet (c. 2013)


Interesting from a certain viewpoint (don’t think physicality in the construction similar to the continents, but where you are and where you go to online based on the map designations). In this sense, it’s another travel dimension of sorts! It’s rather like the the maps you see in the Age of Discovery in the centuries past when men explored the world in sailing ships. The maps were crude at first but became more refined over time. There is a perspective here to be appreciated and that is the following: All things human begin from the fundamental to the advanced – that is how our species learns and understands. We seem to be better at this in some ways, especially technology, but not so good in other ways, especially getting along with each other.

A final comment: The internet is capable of breaking down barriers like class, religion and wealth and everyone can participate (in principle). The reality is that the human species does not use the brain it has developed and the instances of this are too numerous to mention in the thousands of years of civilization. Although Carl Sagan did not live to see the full potential of the internet age, I like what he had to say about humanity in general – The Frontier Is Everywhere:

We were hunters and foragers. The frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the earth, and the ocean, and the sky. The open road still softly calls. Our little terraqueous globe as the madhouse of those hundred thousand millions of worlds. We, who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds; are we to venture into space?

By the time we are ready to settle even the nearest other planetary systems, we will have changed. The simple passage of so many generations will have changed us; necessity will have changed us. We are… an adaptable species. It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very like us, but with more of our strengths, and fewer of our weaknesses; more confident, farseeing, capable and prudent.

For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness. What new wonders undreamt of in our time, will we have wrought in another generation, and another? How far will our nomadic species have wandered, by the end of the next century, and the next millennium?

Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds through the solar system, and beyond, will be unified, by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the universe, come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross, before we found our way.

The internet 2007 –
The Internet 2010 –
The Internet 2013 –
Carl Sagan – The Pale Blue Dot




I don’t often write about my travels in this WordPress blog (Cogito Ergo) as I have another site for that (TravBuddy). In this year of 2013, I completed a number of travel blogs on that site that are worth noting and I give the links to them here. Mind you, I don’t know that any of my travel blogs are ever really completed. Each one is like a child I nurture and raise up, but always needs attention in future ways. Anyway, I suppose I list them here for my own reference and also to offer it to others who may be interested in my travels. There is some connection of the blogs, one to another in embedded personal ways, but are also self-contained. Here they are:




Spocklogic_Switzerland_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Germany_Travel Blog.



Some of these blogs have been posted for some years, and I either added to them, made them more complete, and/or formed connections between them. Some of them are entirely new in 2013. They do tell a story in total I suppose and maybe that’s why I decided to make a sort of review of the Travels of Spocklogic here. They were also all the blogs featured on TravBuddy for me this year. My Italy blog (L’Avventura Dell Italia) seems never-ending and I have some more work to do on it, but the majority of important events are there for the most part. The last one in this list, the blog on China, is something I am still working on too, but intend (or hope) to complete it before the end of 2013. I suppose this collection of blogs forms a personal journey of sorts that I tried to form this year regarding my life and relation to travel. When I finish the China blog, maybe I will know what I have been endeavoring to understand and ultimately discover in my life. It’s not a teaser, or cliffhanger, but maybe more a matter of what I will embrace. Sounds enigmatic I suppose, but not really. It’s my personal perspective, the choices I make and what is ultimately best for me in a world of possibilities…


We just had a Transit of Venus recently this June 5, 2012. Is this something you should know and is it a big deal? Well, yes it is! On average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century. In contrast, transits of Venus occur in pairs with more than a century separating each pair.  The last transit occurred on June 8, 2004, the first of the pair in our time. The next pair will occur in 2117. In centuries before, several transits were observed and they occurred on the dates:

December 9, 1874 and December 6, 1882
June 6, 1761 and June 3-4, 1769
December 7, 1631 and December 7, 1639

The 1639 observation was the first scientific observation of the transit, but the 1761 & 1769 observations caused quite a flurry of scientific activity and excitement. This was a time of new astronomical instruments too. A nice discussion about this event during the time of Thomas Jefferson can be heard here on the Thomas Jefferson Hour:  Transit of Venus with Jefferson

Transit of Venus – 5:45:25 PT June 5, 2012

My friend, Gang Lei, in California captured this amazing photo with an ipad through an astronomical telescope in KLA-Tencor campus. I tried to view the transit myself, but the cloudy conditions did not subside until after sunset. I was pleased to see my friend had captured the experience a coast away. It’s a very nice photograph to capture the event.

As to my original question, whether it matters or not, I suppose that depends on your perspective. For me, yes it definitely matters as a cosmic happening and something rare to see (once or twice in a lifetime). It is a reminder that there is is a continued regularity in the universe hopping centuries in realization. This is something to expand the human mind and visit the cosmos for a time in reflection. I saw the transit in 2004, so I am not so disappointed to miss 2012. It will never occur again in my lifetime, and that is something I feel too. The happenings of the cosmos are not insignificant and they are time passages for us all…

Here’s a retrospective: