Monday, February 04, 2008

Beam Me Up, Shruti

The Economic Times

NASA to Beam a Beatles Number
4 Feb, 2008, 0359 hrs IST, TNN

For Alien Ears

Today is the 40th anniversary of the day the Beatles recorded their psychedelic song “Across the Universe” in London’s Abbey Road studios. Today is also the 45th anniversary of the day NASA’s deep-space communications network was set up.

And this year the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) is observing the 50th anniversary of its foundation. To commemorate all three anniversaries, NASA has decided to beam across the universe today the Beatles’ song recorded 40 years ago.

The music will be digitalised and beamed through NASA’s deep-space communications network on a 431-light-year journey to the North Star, Polaris, where it is scheduled to arrive in 2439. The song has an Indian connection since it was created at the time the Beatles were learning Transcendental Meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Which explains the salutation Jai Guru Dev, Om in the chorus of the song.

That was also the time the Beatles were experimenting with psychedelic drugs like LSD. Which could explain the lyrics “Words are flowing like endless rain into a paper cup.../Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes.../Limitless undying Love which shines around me like a million suns/It calls me on and on across the universe...”

Lennon said he wrote the first line one night in 1967 in response to his wife “going on and on about something. I kept hearing these words over and over, went downstairs and it turned into some sort of cosmic song.”

Forty years later, Beatles’ DVD producer Martin Lewis suggested that NASA beam the song since its lyrics breathed friendship and harmony. With ISRO scheduled to launch its first unmanned lunar orbiter this year, maybe Chandrayaan-1 could also serenade the moon by beaming the music of Bismillah Khan playing Raga Durga on the shehnai. “Even if the world ends, the music will still survive,” Khan would say.

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