The Golden Disk: From Reality to Beast Wars
Before Beast Wars, the Golden Disk existed. It existed because it's a real object attached to a real United States space probe headed towards interstellar space.
It all started in the 70's, with probes the US was sending to explore the giant gas planets in our solar system. The flight paths of the Pioneer probes showed that after they had passed between Jupiter and Saturn, that they would fly off of the elliptical plane (the plane of orbit that the first 8 planets share) and out of our solar system.
Launched in 1972, the Probes Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 would be the first human-made objects to leave the solar system, so NASA decided that they should put something on it that would function as a sort of "Message in a Bottle", in case it was discovered by a space-faring extraterrestrial race. They decided to make a Golden Plaque:
An explanation given by UCL Astrophysics states:
"Now coasting through interstellar space, they carry with them greetings in the form of a gold anodized plaque with symbolic drawings as illustrated above.
The male and female figures are drawn to the same scale as the Pioneer spacecraft shown behind them.
Immediately to the left is a map of the position of the sun with respect to nearby pulsars and the center of the galaxy while below is a drawing of the solar system indicating the planet of origin.
In the upper left is a schematic of two fundamental states of the hydrogen atom.
These diagrams along with other details of the plaque were designed by Carl Sagan of Cornell University and are intended to be decipherable by spacefaring extraterrestrial civilizations. "
So the idea of equipping probes that moved beyond the solar system with human artifacts was born.
In 1977, Voyager 1 & Voyager 2 were launched. Voyager 1 was sent to gather more information on Jupiter and Saturn, while Voyager 2 moved further and studied Uranus & Neptune. Both probes moved off in opposite directions from each other, as well as moving in different directions from the Sun than the Pioneer probes.
NASA decided to be a little more elaborate than they had with the Pioneer Plaques. They wanted to send Audio and Video information as their "Messages in a Bottle" aboard the Voyager spacecrafts.
They created two identical golden records, titled "The Sounds of Earth", and attached them to the space probes. They placed a protective case over the record, and a playing needle inside the protective casing. On the outside of the casing was information on where the craft came from, as well as information on how to build a device capable of playing the records.
Here's a pic of the Voyager Probe and basic info (from Nasa.gov):
"Pioneers 10 and 11, which preceded Voyager, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future.
With this example before them, NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2-a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.
The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals.
To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim. Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle.
Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played.
The 115 images are encoded in analog form. The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect. Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music.
Once the Voyager spacecraft leave the solar system (by 1990, both will be beyond the orbit of Pluto), they will find themselves in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system.
As Carl Sagan has noted, 'The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.' "
Here is the Golden "Sounds of Earth" Record:
Here's the record's cover:
Here's the explananation of what the symbols on the cover mean:
So, that's the true story of the fabled Golden Disk from Beast Wars. Now we come to the fictional history.
As the Voyager probes passed through our solar system, Megatron (the original, Decepticon Leader) inscribed a secret message upon one (or possibly both) of the Golden Disks, as a means to contact any future Decepticons, should he fail in his mission.
His message detailed important locations in relation to their war effort, as well as the access codes to the Ark (when it was originally crashed). He knew the Transwarp technology was soon to be a reality, and with it time travel capabilities. He implored the Decepticon who found the message to travel back in time and alter the past, so that Decepticon victory would be assured.
Centuries passed, and the one of Golden Disks was found by the Maximals, and stored as a valuable relic. It was later stolen by the Predacon named Megatron who discovered the hidden message. Megatron recruited a crew and stole a Predacon transwarp ship, and departed for the coordinates of Earth, as detailed on the Disk itself.
When they arrived though, they were followed by a Maximal ship, the Axalon. The ships fired upon one another and both crashed to the planet below.
At first they thought they had arrived on the wrong planet, but it was later revealed to indeed be Earth, merely altered somewhat by the aliens known as the Vok. Megatron settled for gathering Energon, instead of following through with the original Megatron's plans.
Later another golden disk was discovered, though not one of human origin. This golden disk, called the Alien Disk, was created by the Vok and contained information on the strange aliens as well as their weird devices on the planet.
It, too was taken by the Predacon Megatron and studied to learn the secrets of the planet and the aliens.
Eventually Megatron realized that the planet was Earth, and proceeded with his predecessor's plans, but not before both disks were stolen by Dinobot. Dinobot gave the Alien Disk to the Maximal scientist Rhinox and, in a moment of weakness, returned the Golden Disk to Megatron. After Dinobot had stolen the Disks, though, Black Arachnia downloaded Megatron's backup copies, and destroyed them, blaming Dinobot.
Megatron later attacked Rhinox when he was alone and took back the Alien Disk as well. He used the Alien Disk to seize control of the Vok Metal Hunter, but both the Metal Hunter and the Alien Disk were destroyed by Tarantulas, who sought to kill the Vok.
Megatron then used the Golden Disk to locate humanity's ancestors, in an attempt to exterminate them, and keep humanity from tipping the scales in the Autobots' favor. That failed, thanks to Dinobot, who sacrificed his own life to destroy the Golden Disk and save the forefathers of mankind.
A shard of the Golden Disk remains, though, and Megatron used the garbled message it contained to bring the Decepticon/Predacon Ravage over to his side.
Using Black Arachnia's copies, Megatron gained access to the Ark and attaempted to destroy Optimus Prime. Black Arachnia thwarted Megatron's plan, though, and the Maximals safeguarded the Ark, to prevent Megatron from attempting to alter time again.
The Ark's assess codes were passed to Optimus Primal, whose body and brain were taken over by Tarantulas and Quickstrike. BW megatron spark merged with G1 Megatron and became TM2 Megatron (after Tarantulas and Quickstrike tried to kill him by dropping him in a lava pit). Tarantulas set the Ark to explode, in his own attempt to alter the future. Black Arachnia again thwarted their plans.
Eventually Megatron was captured and G1 Megatron's spark was returned to his body.
What happened to the shard of the Golden Disk is unknown. If Megatron carried it on his person, it was likely destroyed when he was dropped into the lava pit. If he kept it hidden in his base, it was probably destroyed by the Vok.