CONTENTS AND FRONT PAGE STORY
THE WEBSITE OF AUTHOR JANET GOGERTY
‘Broken, what do you mean broken?’ said the chief.
‘As in not working at all, well it might still be working, but as all communications have ceased we have no way of knowing.’
‘No pictures, no transmission at all?’
‘No’ said Digby.
‘So we’ve announced to The World that we can take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and answer fundamental questions about our origins and now we’re taking a giant step backwards?’
‘Not backwards, just standing still.’
‘Juno spent nearly five years getting to Jupiter at goodness knows what cost and we can’t even show a holiday snap?’
‘We’ll fake it Chief.’
‘What on earth do you mean?’
‘Make it all up, how could anyone prove otherwise. My grandfather faked the moon landing in a Hollywood studio and no one guessed.’
‘Yes they did.’
‘But they were dismissed as conspiracy theory nerds. This time we don’t even need actors, just CGI, computer generated images.’
‘Yes Digby, I know what CGI means, but I am not Stephen Spielberg; I may earn less money than him, but I value my job and reputation. Besides, other scientists would not be fooled.’
‘They could be, what about the emperor’s new clothes?’
The chief was beginning to wonder if Digby had lost it, nobody on the project was completely sane and if genius was close to madness Digby had the most brilliant mind he had ever encountered.
The young man was still talking. ‘If we make up something totally incomprehensible, who is going to admit they are not clever enough to understand what we are talking about?’
‘But that’s outrageous, supposing Juno starts working again when we’ve already put out the wrong information?’
‘No problem Chief, Jupiter is so large we would expect different readings at each stage.’
Digby wondered how he had been persuaded to sit on the breakfast television sofa, but once the deception had started rolling there had been no stopping it. The public were excited, it took their minds off problems at home, home being Planet Earth.
‘Turn that television off, it’s time to go to school.’
‘Muuum, it’s far more educational listening to Professor Digby; come and listen, they’ve detected some sort of signal, proof of sentient life.’
No we haven’t actually discovered the meaning of life, but we have found someone who has.
The two presenters exchanged amused glances.
Someone, as in a person?
As in a sentient being whose substance we can’t comprehend, but who wants to communicate with us.
Presumably he doesn’t speak English.
No, but the language of mathematics is universal.
Because the laws of the universe conform to mathematical formulae?
The other presenter looked pleased with himself.
The female presenter was more cynical. ...and what did it or they have to say for themselves?
Too early to say for sure, but I think words to the effect that we are too narrow in how we perceive the universe. In our feeble 3D carbon based bodies we wouldn’t know an alien if we bumped into one at the shopping centre.
So your new friends are 2D and made of helium and hydrogen.
The chief turned off the television, this deception had to stop. They would announce that Juno had suddenly failed and they could not be sure if any data was accurate.
Suddenly there was a commotion in the control room.
‘Chief, we’re getting a signal.’
‘No, look at the screen.’
Per aspera ad astra
The chief read the words on the screen and mumbled the translation ‘Through hardships to the stars.’
‘Chief, the other screens…’
Even as he turned to look, music floated out, Beethoven, Bach…
‘Voyager golden record, sent in 1977… someone out there has found it, I never thought I’d see this in my life time.’
The others wondered if their boss had gone mad as he spun round the control room.
The screens were filling with images, human beings, diagrams.
‘Calm down Chief, this is one of Digby’s tricks.’
‘No, not this time.’
A flicker and all the screens showed a picture of Jupiter and a strange script began to appear.
We’ve been waiting a long time for you to open the channels of communication; your pathetic tin can has been impounded. We can tell you all you want to know, but I don’t think your tiny putrid brains, inside their calcium case, would understand.