Stone Design Stone Design
News Download Buy Software About Stone
The Figures of a Man and a Woman:
On the right side of the plaque, a man and a woman are shown in front of the spacecraft. Between the brackets that indicate the height of the woman, the binary representation of the number 8 can be seen. In units of the wavelength of the hyperfine transition of hydrogen this means 8 × 21 cm = 168 cm.

The right hand of the man is raised as a sign of good will. Although it is unlikely that this gesture will be understood, it offers a way to show the opposite thumb and that the limbs can be moved.

Originally Sagan drew the humans holding hands, but soon realized that an extraterrestrial might perceive the figure as a single creature rather than two people. The figures appear to be Caucasian and Occidental, but Linda's generic depiction of mankind was intended to be as racially free as possible.

The solar system with the trajectory of the Pioneer spacecraft.

Hyperfine transition of neutral hydrogen.
Relative position of the Sun to the center of the Galaxy and 14 pulsars with their periods denoted.
One can see that the woman's genitals are not really depicted; only the mons veneris is shown. It has been claimed that Sagan, having little time to complete the plaque, suspected that NASA would have rejected a more intricate drawing and therefore made a compromise just to be safe. However, according to Mark Wolverton's more detailed account, the original design included a "short line indicating the woman's vulva. It was erased as condition for approval by John Nugle, former head of NASA's Office of Space Science and the agency's former chief scientist.

But Sagan himself wrote that "The decision to omit a very short line in this diagram was made partly because conventional representation in Greek statuary omits it. But there was another reason: Our desire to see the message successfully launched on Pioneer 10. In retrospect, we may have judged NASA's scientific-political hierarchy as more puritanical than it is. In the many discussions that I held with such officials up to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the President's Science Adviser, not one Victorian demurrer was ever voiced; and a great deal of helpful encouragement was given."

He also commented that "The idea of government censorship of the Pioneer 10 plaque is now so well documented and firmly entrenched that no statement from the designers of the plaque to the contrary can play any role in influencing the prevailing opinion. But we can at least try.

©1997-2007 Stone Design top