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back to article 'BILLION-YEAR DISK' to help FUTURE LIFEFORMS study us

Boffins have devised a storage medium that could hold data for up to one billion years and claim recent accelerated ageing tests have shown "million-year" survivability. The study's authors are Jeroen de Vries of the University of Twente MESA and Institute for Nanotechnology, and colleagues Dimitri Schellenberg, Leon Abelmann1, …

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Paris Hilton

Not bad, but didn't Simon Sharwood talk about that in this ElReg-ism?

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I think that ...

... the geological record already provides this option. See mid-Atlantic rift.

Humans (and our technology) will not last forever, but geology will last for the duration of the planet.

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Re: I think that ...

@jake "Humans (and our technology) will not last forever, but geology will last for the duration of the planet."

No it won't. Subduction and recycling of geology means we actually have no "original" rocks from the point where the Earth cooled from a blob of molten rock and started to form a crusty surface.

The oldest samples we have are dated at around 4-4.4Ga. Odds are all (or all bar a vanishingly small handful) of the rocks on Earth today will not exist in their current form when the sun goes red giant (estd. 5Bn years), on average they'll have been subducted and recycled by the time we're all swallowed up by the sun.

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Re: I think that ...

The Earth will become uninhabitable a lot sooner than 5 Gigayears hence. We're actually rather close to the inwards edge of the habitable zone around the Sun, and the Sun is getting hotter as it ages. Unless "we" initiate major planetary protection operations within the next Gigayear (orbital sunshades, or orbit expansion), life will be over by then. Some estimate as soon as 300My, before Earth suffers thermal runaway the same as Venus. (OMG multicellular life is having its midlife crisis! )

If we want to leave a *really* long-term record, Earth isn't really the right place. Too much corrosive oxygen and water and those awkward plate tectonics, and a boiling sulphuric acid nightmare after the end of life on Earth.The Moon is better (dig in deep to protect against all but huge meteor strikes, and position-mark with long-life radioactives near the surface). An outer moon of Saturn would be better still, might even survive Sol going red giant and nova. (Ring any bells? ....)

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Re: I think that ...

to take a page out of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Man ...

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Eh?

Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years? Just copy the stuff to the new media of the day. For it to ever be viable, the controller, computer and software would also have to last millions of years too.

Salesman: We got this multi-million year archiving solution.

Buyer: Cool, what does it cost?

Salesman: £Loads....

Buyer: Hmm... We got budget for a 10 year storage solution. Next!

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Re: Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years?

Since about a million years from now when the first settlers on 55 Cancri e wake up from their long sleep and need to start building their civilisation with the tools that they bought with them.

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Re: Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years?

Or when we annihilate ourselves and the alien Time Team come a looking on planet Wastikia 12c (Known as Earth to us) and make the exciting find, right at the end of the program. A disc of data able to store data for several million years, Tune in next week after we have decoded it.

Regrettably an addition to the next program stated that the media was 1 year out of date and no identifiable information could be retrieved. There used to be a civilisation on this planet but we don't know who or what they were, oh well. Next week we investigate Wastikia 12d where more alien life may have lived as it is in the fretimba zone (Goldilocks Zone to us).

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Re: Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years?

No, the next program shows how they decoded all the data and found what can only be described as 'mostly porn'.......

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Re: Eh?

Sometimes new technology can read old data. I remember reading, probably in El Reg, about a laser beam tracking the groove in vinyl records, delivering a signal with much less noise, so to speak.

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Re: Eh?

The idea here is presumably for the information to survive periods when it isn't possible to copy it to new media, or when it isn't thought necessary to copy it to new media.

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Coat

@Ragarath " the alien Time Team come a looking on planet Wastikia 12c"

But will one of them say "'Ere, Xplyxtic, come and 'ave a look at this...!"

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Re: Eh?

I remember the laser groove reader. AFAIK it's never gone past laboratory stage.

Supposedly, LPs can be read using a high resolution scanner. I'd like to see it (seriously. I have some old vinyl which has been damaged by abuse in the 1960s...)

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Re: Eh?

>I remember the laser groove reader. AFAIK it's never gone past laboratory stage.

It made it to market. Yours for around $15,000.

http://www.elpj.com/experience/video.php

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Re: Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years?

what can only be described as 'mostly porn'.......

With the remainder being Rick Astley videos. Or cats.

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Re: Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years?

That's "instructive audio-visual material concerning mating habits" to you, sirrah!

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Devil

Re: Since when does digital data need a permanent medium in the ranges of millions of years?

...except the alien Time Team will never find the disc, since the GalacTV budget for digging around on Earth will cover only a day and a half or so...

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Which Justin Bieber video were they wanting

to view in 2,117,004 AD? We have quite a few, and none of them are informative.

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All scenarios...

You can handle most of their other scenarios by making multiple copies and storing them at different locations - and if one of the locations is Pluto then it should even cope with the sun becoming a red giant. Simples.

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Re: All scenarios...

How do you advertise the location of your data store? You could build some structure, obviously artificial, with the data at its heart, or you could have the old 'magnetic anomaly on the moon', a la 2001.

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So in a few millenia..

The current dominant species will be able to glean from the internet that Cats were the most prolific thing the internet was used for to share and store their escapades, ergo, Cats were worshiped.

Deja vu...

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Re: So in a few millenia..

...and in a few million years, it will probably be Cats who are the dominant species.

(And Lo, the course of the feline race was set when Mr Kittles freed us from slavery by working out how to open the TUNA)

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Re: So in a few millenia..

I, for one, bow to our new feline overlords

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Re: So in a few millenia..

This we currently do anyway. We have to 'bow down' to stroke them. There is a pattern emerging here.

Adams was wrong.

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Alien

Re: So in a few millenia..

CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.

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Re: So in a few millenia..

I don't think so. I've seen a documentary (sent back from the future) about how cats evolve over the course of a few million years, called "Red Dwarf", and the evolved cat shown therein is a little lacking in the sort of skills needed to become a dominant species.

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Re: So in a few millenia..

I, too, saw that documentary. But to be fair, it is a little like basing the entire Human race on Lister.

Or Rimmer.

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Fred Flinstone

did pretty well with a hammer and chisel.

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Windows

"Microsoft Office 1002014 cannot read this file"

I'm sorry, but that document seems to have been produced in an earlier version of Office.

Please ask the originator to upgrade to the latest version of Office, and resend.

Microsoft Office 1002014 offers all the must have features critical for productive work in todays environment. Anything else is sooooooo 1002013.

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Re: "Microsoft Office 1002014 cannot read this file"

Then why oh why don't future civilisations use LibraOffice 9538485.3 on Ubuntu 58486324.1 instead, thereby "sticking it to the M$ man"? It's free, stable and and they've finally got the Desktop UI and printer drivers nailed, (remaining printer, UI and network issues TBA in release 58486324.2 and later).

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Re: "Microsoft Office 1002014 cannot read this file"

The year 2,362,127 - the year of Linux on the desktop?

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Legacy

Bearing in mind what a complete fuck-up we humans are making of the planet, of being demonstrably unable to live with each other (never mind with any other species) in peace and harmony, and our general lack of responsibility for ...well ...anything, I can't help thinking that the best legacy we could leave any following civilisations would be to disappear quietly and take our rather unhealthy culture with us.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Legacy

methinks you expect WAY too much from us (tidy up and leave quietly). Fortunately, good old mother (...) nature should be able to mop up our shit once we've blown our heads off, once and for good.

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Re: Legacy

Maybe future races could learn from our mistakes?

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If they ever get here I doubt we'll have much to teach them.

Oh, sorry - I was thinking extraterrestrials.

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Re: Legacy

Crazy Eddie...

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Re: Legacy

""""being demonstrably unable to live with each other (never mind with any other species) in peace and harmony""""

It could be because of what different cultures perceive as "peace and harmony" is not the same as the others.

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what to write

so, suggestions for what to write on these million year disks?

what would someone/something reading these disks want to know about us?

more importantly, what don't we want them to know about us?

"Hi. If you are reading this we must be gone. We were a warlike race, totally disinterested in preserving a viable environment or settling our differences peacefully. Try to do better."

[i look forward to the war that starts over the content of the "forever library" when somebody's religion or political party is "obviously" mistreated by the committee]

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Re: what to write

"If you are reading this, don't forget to sanitize your phone".

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Re: what to write

Might I suggest "Ozymandias"?

First, the sonnet by Shelley.

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I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

------

And on the 'B' side? The companion work.

Smith's Ozymandias.

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IN Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,

Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws

The only shadow that the Desert knows:—

"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,

"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows

"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—

Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose

The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express

Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness

Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,

He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess

What powerful but unrecorded race

Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

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Re: what to write

Everything.

As we can't know what might be interesting later.

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Re: what to write

"so, suggestions for what to write on these million year disks?"

Lies, and random nonsense.

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Black Helicopters

Re: what to write

"Everything"

Then just copy everything the NSA has.

Problem solved!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lies, and random nonsense

So these billion-year disks are large enough to archive both facebook and twitter?

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Re: what to write

There can be only one answer to that question. I say WE RICKROLL THEM!

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Vic
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Re: what to write

> suggestions for what to write on these million year disks?

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..."

Vic.

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Excellent

So we put all the technology gleaned from thousands of years on the planet and leave it to the next race, who will probably need the same amount of time to gain the technology to be able to decipher it.

It's like writing down the instructions for making a key and putting it in a locked box.

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Re: Excellent

>who will probably need the same amount of time to gain the technology to be able to decipher it.

The article discusses markings that are visible to the naked eye, and to microscopes - on the same material as stores data magnetically. You could leave lots (thousands) of sapphire lenses lying around the vicinity of the data store - not only would they facilitate the building of a microscope, but they would be found and traded as gems are today. Later, curiosity and greed would make sure that future beings would explore the area more carefully, leading them to discover the data store.

However, it is desirable to require a certain level of technology to read the data- we want future archaeologists to decipher these disks. We don't want them being used as fetish objects or clubs by the cave-dwelling man apes that will wander the post-apocalyptic wastelands.

Arthur C Clarke's solution to separate the apes from the men was to place the data store on the moon.

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Re: Excellent

Make big visible diagrams showing how to build a microscope

Markings visible with the microscope show how to build tech to read next level

etc.

Assumes a certain level of technology with each layer of course...

Obviously, if the data requires more than one disc, there is a problem... eventually the future people receive an error message saying 'This is disc 3 of 10. Please insert disc 1 to read file list' or probably 'Thix si drrc # fi !). Plix inrest drrc ! 2 rrrd dictionary'

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Re: Excellent

"Arthur C Clarke's solution to separate the apes from the men was to place the data store on the moon." - that won't work too well if they finally manage to get there only to look around, say "achievement unlocked" then leave never to return, as a certain other sentient species seem to be doing. Unless that is specifically part of the definition of apes vs. men, of course.

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