June 28, 2005


Via Amritas I found a fascinating old article about a challenge I'd never even considered: how do you write a message for 10,000 years in the future? This is the problem the Department of Energy is working on for warning about nuclear waste.

Designing a "Keep Out" sign that lasts for 10,000 years and still holds meaning is not an easy task.

After all, about 10,000 years ago, the Sahara was a fertile savanna, and humans were just beginning to put down their spears and figure out how to grow food. Ten thousand years from now, Earth could conceivably be populated by extraterrestrials.

There's another website chronicling the magnitude of difficulty in writing this message. It's a mind-boggling task.

Posted by Sarah at June 28, 2005 04:42 PM

If they have lost language and the technogy to determine the danger, they will lack the ability to dig through the plug. At any rate, within 700 years the wastes will be below the average for the ore bodys they came from. This is just a boondogle to keep a bunch of academics employed.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis at June 28, 2005 06:30 PM

Yeah, what Walter said. And, as it turns out, I'm just selfish enough to not care. If we're not around as a people in 10,000 years to remember that some nasty stuff is there then I just don't care.

Wow, that's cold, but what Walter said is true, if they don't have the technology to know it's there they won't have the technology to punch through to it.


Posted by: Kalroy at June 28, 2005 07:05 PM

My kid and I got a kick out of this. Her comments: "They need to start a mythology among the people there. [I told her there's a lot of science fiction along those lines.] The mythology would be there as long as the people are. And if aliens or somebody comes along after when the people are gone, well, screw 'em. [She's not real ladylike sometimes when it's just her and me.] ... Only seven languages? They need to have every language they can think of! Heck, make up one!" She wishes her Contemporary Issues teacher (it was Current Events in my day) had known about this because it probably would have been the basis of a cool project.

Posted by: Laura at July 4, 2005 05:07 AM