August 30, 1990 (scribbled notation says “mailed 8-22-90”)
100 Skyport Drive
San Jose, CA 95110-1301
Dear Mr. Sampson:
Hi, it’s me again. OK. This is what I figured out.
If your station is going to be Earth’s official welcoming comittee for beings outside of the Solar System, maybe you can borrow some tactics from traditional welcoming committees. Important dignitaries visiting a foreign country can usually expect to be greeted by dancing schoolgirls (of course, we always have cheer leaders), bouquets of flowers, baskets of cookies, those little purple canides no one likes, access to people with important information, military music, newspaper photographers, and a series of boring speeches.
Now since your greetings need to be sent over a relatively long distance, there is no way you can send a basket of cookies, (which is a disappontment to Maud Clemens, who loves to bake, but she insists that cookies must be fresh). You can’t even send a newspaper photographer. But you can broadcast PHOTOGRAPHS, you can broadcast MILITARY MUSIC (though I can’t think why you would want to), and long boring SPEECHES would be a snap (especially around early June). However, as Lucy pointed out, the welcoming gift which would be most appreciated by the Senders of Shaula would be IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
r i g h t, you might think, and how do we know just what information the Senders would consider important, and how would they know it is being broadcast as a gesture of goodwill?
That may be easier than it sounds. You see, although the Senders don’t seem to know yet that we are receiving their messages, they’ve been asking for information all along. Something like Leonardo da Vinci scribbling messages to the future in the margins of his notebooks “Tell me if anything ever was done. Tell me if anything ever was done.”
Mostly the Senders seem to want technical information, information about cars and rocket engines and steam locomotives and skateboards that hover over water (ddi you broadcast “Back to the Future II” by any chance?) They were also very interested in the wind farm at Altamont Pass. They couldn’t figure out if it was designed to stabilize the rotation of the Earth or to process carrots on a massive scale. (The commentary for that program must have been wiped out by static.)
So Lucy and I thought, if we receive a request for specific information and right away you broadcast programs containing that information, (and maybe rebroadcast it three or four times to make sure they get it), well, we think they would be intelligient enough to get the idea that we hear them and are willing to cooperate.
The most recent requests seem to be for information on the propulsion systems of the space shuttle and how we got the Hubble Telescope into that postiion. (Technological wonder that is.)
Is there any chance you could broadcast, repeatedly, somehting along those lines? Or maybe that segment from “The New Yankee Workshop” on jet-propelled tea carts (I think that was from “The New Yankee Workshop.)
We know you’ll do your best and even if you can’t find anyting appropriate, we appreaciate your efforts.
P.S. Drive very carefully. Those school kids can get vicious (also viscous, especially at crosswalks and during lunch).