There are quite few interesting design decisions to be made taking this lifespan in to account, for example if current civilization will be wiped out, what symbols you should put on a door to discourage someone in future to opening the door.
Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.
What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.
The danger is in a particular location... it increases towards a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.
The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.
The danger is to the body, and it can kill.
The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.
The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited
If the threat is widespread human and environmental destruction, I wonder if an additional layer of warning does not need to consist of more constrained lethality. "We're going to show you what this stuff is, you should've really paid attention to the warnings."
"It is a place of evil: all who venture into the pit die in agony within a few days," seems like something that would have more cultural weight. And be trivially re-discoverable at any point. People don't go wandering into lava to see what's below. People wouldn't have stripped the Egyptian tombs if the warnings on the wall consistently came true. Perhaps the best warning of danger is danger.
And then, if the threat model is drilling, it seems to me very unlikely that a future mining civilisation would not understand pictures, maps and diagrams illustrating the content. Is an illustration really more culturally ambiguous than language?
Anyway, that's probably the reason that energy line is here. But you'd simply check everything you can measure at the time, conclude superstition and continue anyway.
Of course there is no helping if the future people are especially dismissive of your warnings, but they should suffer from debilitating radiation sickness before they get too far away, so at least the leak would be somewhat contained.
Interesting story idea for a post-apocalyptic agrarian society where some guy wipes out his rival's towns by lightly burying preapocalyptic nuclear waste in the town square to kill off the inhabitants while preaching about curses and gods smiting the inhabitants for their sins.
Gory imagery always gets the job done.
The ancient Egyptians learned this the hard way. Many of their tombs were marked with graphic warnings threatening anyone who disturbed them with various horrible ends. But most of them were robbed regardless, and those that weren't were eventually cracked open by 19th and 20th century archaeologists.
That wasn't because the people violating those tombs didn't understand the warnings (the archaeologists certainly did). It was for two reasons:
1. Some people, like the archaeologists, are going to read the warnings and dismiss them as dumb ancient superstitions; and
2. Other people, like ancient grave robbers, are going to read the warnings and think "Huh. They really want me to stay out of that place. There must be something really valuable in there!"
The only Egyptian tombs that survived to the modern era were the ones so well hidden that nobody had managed to stumble across them.
Then again, we can't really know if the future civilization will consider out spent nuclear fuel as a pretty good store of value.
Not the exact message, but definitely should give pause to anybody visiting the place in the far future.
Have a main chamber with a solid pedestal in the center. Then, on walls throughout the complex, depict some golden treasure that never existed resting on said pedestal using wall art.
Imagine a scavenger, with a clear vision in their head of what the chamber looks like, arriving in an empty room: "Someone must have already raided this place."
Meanwhile, the nuclear material is under that chamber.
Also, why do they assume future visitors will enter through the front door? I thought their intention was to bury the entrance and erase all signs it existed.
Here's a summary from Tvtropes:
>The Writing on the Wall is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by Horse Voice. Daring Do is asked to help in the excavation of the most ancient tomb known to ponykind - thousands of years older than the oldest known masonry, with incredible craft and skill going into the construction of the impressive edifice. Ancient text in a number of languages, all of them long since lost, is carved into every surface in one of the rooms of the structure nearest to the surface, likely some kind of curse meant to warn away would-be looters. Workers work to breach the walls below, to find the secrets of this ancient place, but perhaps they should have heeded the writing on the wall.
Guys, it's not the waste that's the problem here.
My favorite part: "Bastide and Fabbri came to the conclusion that the most durable thing that humanity has ever made is culture: religion, folklore, belief systems. They may morph over time, but an essential message can get pulled through over millennia. They proposed that we genetically engineer a species of cat that changes color in the presence of radiation, which would be released into the wild to serve as living Geiger counters. Then, we would create folklore and write songs and tell stories about these “ray cats,” the moral being that when you see these cats change colors, run far, far away."
The chosen folklore was a song about ray kitties changing color... If you listen to the episode you'll get to hear it in all its glory.
I'm not sure if I agree with this. I think that there is a ludicrous amount of survivorship bias at play with culture. How much do we know about ancient Egypt through culture and not the writings and structures that were left behind? How much do we know about some of the European cultures from ancient times? We really don't know much about ancient Estonia or Finland. We do know a lot about other ancient cultures, but that's because they dominated and continued to dominate for a long time. If our civilization dies off to the degree that people can't decipher simple messages about the danger of radiation, then I think that the cultural aspect of it has died too.
Edit: I understand that writings are culture, but I'm talking about cultural practices or values.
To this day, despite over 1000 years of Christianity, Russian people continue to uphold some superstitions (and, in the case of 'Maslenitsa', holidays) that trace their origin to pagan pre-Kievan Rus'. Strange phenomenons that never found an adoption by the Orthodox church, e.g. that each house possesses its own spirit ('Domovoy'), and that you best remember him and ask for good luck and protection when you leave for a long trip by looking in the mirror and sitting still, in silence, for a few minutes right before you depart. Fail to do so and you have no one to blame but yourself when you return to find it burglarized..! (Or so my immediate family sternly lectured me)
Actually, here we have a fairly ancient holiday, too - Valentine's day's origin can trace itself to when the Romans decided to rebrand the fertility festival Lupercalia, keeping the message (a day devoted to romance) the same, but putting a stop to revelers beating each other with skinned dogs and copulating in the streets.
My point is that while we may forget why we do certain rituals or superstitions, our cultural memes are often imprinted onto us for hundreds of years or more (think weddings!), provided that our culture has descendants to carry the tales. So this makes Bastide and Fabbri's idea not so outlandish. However, it's very difficult to control what cultural memes stick and which ones die - sometimes, it's pure randomness. I guess these folks were betting on the slim chance of the song being so ludicrous and catchy, that it will just have to be told over and over for generations...
>The Onkalo repository is expected to be large enough to accept canisters of spent fuel for around one hundred years, i.e. until around 2120. At this point, the final encapsulation and burial will take place, and the access tunnel will be backfilled and sealed.
So they're already planning to fill the tunnels completely. Considering the depth of the main facility, I would think this will make it very difficult for a primitive civilization to reach the facility even if they found the former entrance and wanted to investigate.
Any significant structure would introduce a gravitational and/or magnetic anomaly. Given that, keeping the structures as small as possible seems the way to go, but of course, you also want to contain the waste for thousands of years.
On the other hand, one could hope that anybody who can detect such anomalies knows about radiation, too.
Once people have technology back, then presumably they’d be able to detect radiation and avoid the contaminated location?
In 100000 years the biggest threat is probably glaciation submerging very large areas of Finland.
This won't prevent people from trying to extract the contents, but it should prevent them for succeeding. I think a few dead grave robbers / explorers is preferable to the waste being extracted and sold back to civilization.
Vaguely reminds me a bit of the curses egyptians wrote in the entrances of the Pharaoh's tombs. Basically cursing trespassers for life. This is a realer version of that. Deeply interesting.
Anyway, place a big red button with a "DO NOT PRESS" sign on it and inevitably someone will press it. I think for nuclear waste the best option is to hide it somewhere nobody will ever find it - miles under the earth, like gold mines, then line the tunnels with explosives and seal it off.
Of course, that wouldn't stop a future generation from accidentally drilling into it by accident while looking for gold.
>Over 20 years ago when I started this project in researching bearings, we found the perfect solution: an all ceramic bearing created for use in satellites and spacecraft
>There was only one problem: when I first heard of these bearings, they cost tens of thousands of dollars and were only used in aerospace.
>...they have become more common and are now used in roller blades and fidget spinners and can cost as little as $10
(I am a bit amused to realise, after reviewing the Internet Archive snapshots, that this article has changed quite a bit over the years.)
I get the point but the reference is pretty crummy, the rosetta stone is a very young artefact on the scale of long-term preservation (most extant bog bodies are older).
You have to walk through a 100 foot gate of granite just to get in. It blows the mind everytime I walk through at the imagination and ambition to build such a thing. And then inside things are even more breathtaking.
It's in daily use for worship and rituals by thousands of people even today. It has seen 8-12 different kingdoms come and go. Not just Hindus but Christians and Muslims administered the area at one time or another.
In addition to Stone what you need is Beauty.
People universally for mysterious reasons recognize Beauty. If it's beautiful it's going to be protected and taken care off. People will happily die to do it.
I guess we are lucky in the UK that the place is thick with ancient stuff of all kinds - most of it generally ignored or unknown.
e.g. The stone works on Ben Griam Beg - are the a hill fort, are they for catching deer (both seem rather odd given its location)
Carving a temple out of solid basalt is a more reliable way of protecting from the elements and all but the most determined humans (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellora_Caves)
…and we destroy those of our enemies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeldenstorm, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_Albanian_herita..., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamyan#2001,_destru...)
If society collapses, there’s a decent risk the ‘owners’ of the long now clock may start to revere it, with the risk of ‘non-owners’, when they (temporarily) become ‘owners’, to destroy it, or take parts of it home for spoils of war.
Alternatively, the ‘owners’ could destroy it themselves for parts.
Add there some mechanism that draws attention and transmits it’s message through radio. Would it be doable to have some primitive electronics that would survive so long?
Maybe just send a sealed capsule capable of re-entry into an orbit that would actually intersect earth in a few hundred thousand years. I doubt we're capable of that sort of precision though..
We could even build an analog device that could store the messages just like a music box cylinder.
Also check out Graveyard orbits for decommissioned satellites where they can stay for millions of years and be our monuments from the 21st century.
Selecting a power source is hard as solar cells almost certainly will not last more than a hundred or two years. Nuclear materials with long half-lives don’t provide much power.
Electronics would just have to be big to avoid radiation damage from being a concern.
Until what the symbol represents starts to conflict with political ideology; then, the symbol gets dismantled to cut people off the undesirable heritage.
> Until what the symbol represents starts to conflict with political ideology; then, the symbol gets dismantled to cut people off the undesirable heritage.
Or coopted for use by the new ideology.
Any such project can only use engineering to provide assurance that the result should last that long _if_ no-one destroys it.
I think once something is more than a few hundred years old then humans will automatically try to preserve it unless there's a good reason not to (reuse of scarce resources, ideological issues, etc). The challenge is getting something to last long enough for our innate desire to preserve history to kick in.
Would ISIS's destruction of a few World Heritage Sites, museums, art galleries, etc. fall under "ideological issues"
This is a very recent development that started circa the 19th century in Europe.
Before that no-one really cared.
Edit: And if you want to go that extra step with your dry stone walls, melt them in place:
After Stafford and Cernan docked with Charlie Brown and re-entered it, Snoopy's ascent stage was sent on a trajectory past the Moon into a heliocentric orbit by firing its engine to fuel depletion (unlike the subsequent Apollo 11 ascent stage, which was left in lunar orbit to eventually crash; all ascent stages after Apollo 11 were instead intentionally steered into the Moon to obtain readings from seismometers placed on the surface, except for the one on Apollo 13, which did not land but was used as a "life boat" to get the crew back to Earth, and burned up in Earth's atmosphere.) Snoopy's ascent stage orbit was not tracked after 1969, and its current location is unknown. In 2011, a group of amateur astronomers in the UK started a project to search for it. It is the only once-crewed spacecraft still in outer space without a crew.
Well, we don't know that. There is no way to know. Selling this to rich guys like Bezos is kind of like selling "after the rapture pet care"...
Seed banks are especially funny/sad. They need to constantly produce seeds, which means constant growth of male/female plants, under human supervision.
No seeds last more than a few years under ideal conditions. Even DNA is unrecoverable/unusable after a few centuries iiirc.
Only if poorly stored. We have plenty of neanderthal DNA, because we have lots of neanderthal teeth which we drill into to extract this ancient DNA. Properly stored, DNA can last thousands of years, I'd wager indefinitely in the right buffer and in liquid nitrogen.
For example Amaranth (pigweed) I've read can lay dormant for something like 40 years and then sprout. And that's outside in native conditions.
Bananas maybe not so much. Not sure.
ETA: and blockchain
The challenge of fulfilling the nerd snipe problem of coming up with a message that can last 10k years may end up being the way in which this idea sticks around.
Our descendants would then be left to wonder at the odd adaptations that life must have made to accommodate complex polymers into their biology, and where those complex polymers might have come from.
Edit: Apparently, together with climate data you can determine the year the tree was cut down hundreds of years after the fact .
If you plant a tree that lasts for 10,000 years (is there such?), I wonder if you can use its height or the shadow it casts (trunk thickness) to measure time.
Of course, someone would just come and kill it. Unless you can make it undesirable to get close to it.. for example fill it with thousands of snakes and spiders.
As far as we know, there are a few clonal plant colonies that have survived longer than 10K years. No individual plants have quite made it to 10K, but some have made it past 2-3K years.
Yes, there are colonies of quaking aspen trees that are estimated to be 80,000 years old: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree)
(except human activity is killing it today)
Because future humans may lose the ability to see the count in the genome .. or just forget it exists and never notice it.