We live in an unprecedented age of information. The problem is that more and more of it lives in a digital form, which in many ways is as fragile as the scrolls in the Library of Alexandria at the hands of Julius Caesar. But if we could store our data in rock like our ancient ancestors, that would be something. Behold, the sapphire data disk that could store our information for a million years.
The disk is made from two thin disks of industrial grade gemstone, about eight inches across. It’s estimated a single disk can store 40,000 miniature pages of pictures and/or text before the disks are molecularly fused together. The prototype disks, which cost an estimated $30 thousand to create will be submerged in acid to simulate ageing and test durability.
Why all fuss about communicating with future generations? Well, we humans get up to all sorts of things future generations will need to know. Things like where nuclear waste is buried so that such storage sites aren’t disturbed placing people at risk. Fortunately a French nuclear waste management company ANDRA has been thinking about the problem.
The company knows sites they are building now could be used for the next 100 years and will survive much longer. While they are building in written warnings carved on stone to ensure curious future Earthlings or perhaps friendly intergalactic visitors, who knows whether they will still exist after hundreds of years of potentially harsh conditions?
So ANDRA created the Euroscience Open Forum to gather experts and interested parties from a variety of fields talk about what we might do to ensure the communication of important information to the future. Since 2010 they’ve been weighing the idea that written stone warnings may not work.
ANDRA researcher Patrick Charton presented the sapphire and engraved platinum solution to the forum as a solution to the physical needs. The industrial grade sapphire gem etched with platinum
It’s there that their researcher Patrick Charton has unveiled the prototype sapphire and platinum solution.
A sapphire memory disk is pretty cool and it will be interesting to see how the prototype stands up to the intense testing. But the researchers and experts from the Open Forum warn that it’s just the one part of the potential solution.
What else could they possibly be worried about? Language.
Archaeologists and futurists alike warn that generations to come may not speak or understand any of our languages. After all, Egyptians placed plenty of ‘do not disturb’ signs on their sacred tombs, but us humans dove right in anyway.
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