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Dario Robleto amon carterSprawled across the shag carpet in his San Antonio living room in 1979, six-year-old Dario Robleto was convinced that extraterrestrials had made contact with humankind. Robleto, home with a mild fever and possessed of an active imagination, mixed up something he saw on a news broadcast concerning the Golden Record, a time capsule–like phonograph album that had been launched into space four years earlier by NASA’s Voyager program. The newscasters announced an 800 number that viewers could call to listen to the record’s audio track, which was full of sounds—ranging from a Bach concerto to surf pounding the sand—for an extraterrestrial civilization to someday decipher. “I thought they were announcing that we had made contact with aliens, and this was the record they were sending to…

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