Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
– Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus
One of my habits is to look at Wikipedia’s on-this-date page. That’s how I learned of the Arecibo Message. On November 16, 1974, the Arecibo Observatory sent a greeting to the M13 star cluster.
The message was kind of a radio version of the Golden Records on the Voyager probes. It had numbers, scientific formulas, graphics of humans and the solar system, etc.
M13 is about 25,000 light years away, so it’s unlikely we’ll be around if there’s a response. Still, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this was the neighborly thing to do.
Now then. You know that thing where you’ve only just learned of something, then you promptly encounter it again? Well, three days later I read this:
Arecibo, a giant radio observatory nestled in the lush mountains of Puerto Rico, did some of the dreamiest work in astronomy. But it was forced to stop operations this year after suffering unprecedented damage, and officials now believe that it is beyond repair. Instead of trying to fix it, they’re going to tear it down.
Look at the photos. It looks like a post-civilization relic. It’s a damned shame.