Note: I typed this fast, my head is about to shear off, it is not verbatim, and I’m sure it’s muddled. It will undergo edits over the next few days. Please do make comments, give insights, offer other questions, and discuss it to your heart’s content. It might not be a new idea… oh well, it’s still a fun one to bat around.
I was meeting with Spaced Diode last Saturday and what comes out of his mouth?
He says “I have this idea and you can mock me if you like…”
SD knows my tendency to listen to ideas, mock them, and replace them with my own. But in this case I was actually interested because he looked… eager. Engaged, even.
“Now, I realize that someone may have already thought of this, but I haven’t seen it, and it just came to…”
“Spit it out, SD,” I said impatiently.
Note: We could debate history (below) but I neither want to teach history nor debate it.
So here’s the idea:
What happened in Alexandria? Well, you had various asses at different points (Caesar, Aurelian, Theophilus, and the Muslims) over a period of almost 700 years do their damnedest to be spectacular asses. We had dark ages in there and beyond that period as well. So what do dark ages consist of? Utter lack of intellectual advancement which typically leads to people being brutal asses to everyone else because they’ve got nothing better to do.
We can speculate whether there is a direct correlation or causation (one to the other or vice-versa) but the point is we had some dark ages and they were pretty awful. Everyone agrees on that point. They also agree that there’s precious little records and the loss of the Library of Alexandria was a pretty huge waste. Lots of brainpower got burned up.
That’s pretty good incentive to try to find some other solution.
Think about what would happen if someone really tried to wipe out the Library of Congress, or if we had our own dark ages after a world war to end all world wars. It’s not beyond the bounds of the imagination to picture us doing something stupid in the future – a few years from now, hundreds of years, thousands… But what happens then? What if future dark ages lead to using precious documents as toilet paper? What if an EMP blast in multiple locations toasts everything around and not only can you not get to the information but you don’t even know where it is anymore?
Thus, the Lunar Alexandria Project.
The very first question posed to me by Spaced Diode started out simple. “How do you build a ten-thousand year clock?”
We discussed that at some length. I supposed that it really came down to a materials selection.
Then he asked, “How do you make anything last ten thousand years?”
I told him my idea on how to design for “forever” was that there’s damn few viable solutions and we agreed that even hundreds of years in book format was pushing limits. Age, water damage, FIRE… DARK AGES… But really, any format – gold discs, memristors, crystals, hard drives – all of it at the mercy of the stupidity of mankind when we really put a lot of ignorance into our efforts. All are fragile and all may be destroyed just like the Library of Alexandria.
His next question was simply “Why not put that information on the moon where no one could get at it? Why not put it there in a repository?”
I said “Oh yes, that will be of big help – any sufficiently advanced society that crawls out of the muck of a new dark age can have that data if they make it to the moon, well after when they actually needed it. Wow. Great idea, man.”
He looked at me exasperatedly. “No (you lunatic), you put out two signals. One is AM radio, which is the simplest kind of communications. I can make an AM radio out of trash in my garage – it’s trivial.”
I said “Oh sure, trivial, tell that to Marconi…”
He looked at me over his glasses with his classic pitying look again. “No, I am talking about receiving, not broadcasting. What you do is broadcast simple instructions for how to get to the point where you can really use the library and…”
I nodded. “Yes! And then you can handshake communicate!”
He looked at me as if I had finally grown a real live brain. “Exactly,” he said, “then they can surf the internet and download all sorts of data – they could rebuild civilization using all the information we’ve already amassed.”
We discussed this for hours. Questions popped up.
- How do you make something last for ten thousand years? A whole new set of technologies have to be invented.
- It has to be self-repairing
- It should be like a factory in some ways, capable of making it’s own parts, too
- Think “alive”
- It has to have redundancy
- It has to have redundancy
- It has to be distributed
- Location, location, location (the poles)
- How do you rad harden it?
- How do you viably store that data?
- RAID systems, cloud type arrangements
- It has to have redundancy
He said, and I agree with him – THAT is where you should put research dollars. THAT is something almost anyone could get behind. THAT has technological payoffs that are incredible.
A question that just occurred to me, and it is one I have wondered about in our present day. Do societies that have all sorts of new breakthrough technologies come all at once break down because they didn’t have the transition from lesser to greater technology over a period of time, where they could assimilate it? Look at any third-world cockroach country. They have this amazing mix of people still living in poverty and ignorance, some have all the benefits of Western Society, and the two are absolutely awful when mixed. Look at any dictatorship, middle eastern country, or North Korea (redundancy there, I know).
By the by, check out the article that Mitchell posted at Center of the Anomaly. It’s about your rapidly-disappearing-in-the-distance gun rights.
I’m thinking Anthony Weiner should look to his new career options at this point.
And this morning it hit me – he could be a rap “artist”. His name?