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.