In September 1977, NASA launched a mission that would expand our understanding of the universe.
You’ve probably seen the pictures. A generation of schoolchildren have grown up with the photos of Jupiter and Saturn taken by NASA's Voyager space probes.
Voyager 1 is an extraordinary engineering achievement. More than forty years after it launched, the spacecraft is 21 billion kilometres away and travelling at about 17 kilometers per second powered by technology that is dwarfed by any modern-day calculator. And despite being in the depths of deep space, one of the harshest environments in our universe, it still communicates with Earth.
As a testament to the engineers and scientists that developed Voyager 1, last November NASA issued a course-correctional instruction to the space probe. The message travelled from Earth all the way to deep space where it was received by Voyager 1. The probe woke up and fired its tiny thrusters that have been lying idle for almost forty years. The probe rotated, shut down its thrusters and responded to Earth with a message: Job done, awaiting further instructions.
A precious cargo
Not only is Voyager 1 an engineering masterpiece, it is also a symbol of our quest for connection. Onboard is a precious cargo. Far into deep space the spacecraft carries evidence of our existence on Earth.
Our languages, our images, our music and our science are inscribed on a Golden Record carried by the spacecraft.
On the cover of this record in the bottom left corner is etched something that resembles an exploding firework. Voyager's Golden Record doesn't just carry our greatest achievements as a species, it also carries a map back to Earth.
The cover of Voyager's Golden Record (image: NASA)
Our thirst for knowledge put Voyager into deep space. And our urge to share and connect with whatever’s out there put the Golden Record onboard. This determination and goodwill in our vast and awesome universe is also what research conferences are fundamentally about.
A 10-year journey
When I started Ex Ordo 10 years ago, I wanted to build intelligent software that would empower academics to share their knowledge. Since then, we’ve rebuilt every part of our software, and added a registration system and a mobile conference app. And we’ve grown from a team of three to a company of 14.
But as our software has evolved, we’ve realised that research goes beyond the halls of academia. The brightest minds on this planet work for universities, but they also launch spacecraft, and develop renewable energy sources and analyse genomes for more effective medicine.
As we've evolved, our Ex Ordo brand remained stuck in the past.
Now, inspired by the Golden Record aboard Voyager 1, we’ve updated our brand to match our ambitions.
To every researcher who's been part of our journey: thanks a million. I hope you'll continue on this voyage with us, well into the future.