How to convey a message that is understandable in 10,000 years

    This question was asked in 1990 by a group of scientists to solve the problem of long-term maintenance of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Here the method of deep geological disposal of waste is applied. The standard service life of the structure is 10,000 years. After placing the capsules in a salt mine at a depth of 600 m and sealing the storage, the waste can be left without maintenance. Since water did not penetrate there for approximately 250 million years, one can cautiously assume that this will not happen for another 200,000 years, while the waste is life-threatening.

    Centuries and millennia will pass. New cultures and civilizations will appear in the United States. Perhaps they will speak new languages ​​and not have written language. The question is how to inform future people about the dangers of this place?

    To solve this difficult task, a working group was assembled. It is very interesting to look at their options.

    Scientists immediately decided that the message should be in graphical form. Not a single language or written language on Earth could survive so much time, and is unlikely to be able to (although, of course, this is possible).

    The famous American astronomer, astrophysicist and an outstanding science popularizer Carl Sagan (now deceased) could not attend the meeting, but sent a message that the problem is easy to solve if you select the correct symbol, and he knows only one such thing: “skull and bones”.



    But symbols can also appear and disappear. In fact, the "skull and bones" were originally a symbol of not rebirth, but rebirth. It was first used in religious literature of the Middle Ages, as can be seen in the painting “Crucifixion” by Fra Beato Angelico of the 15th century.


    The skull is at the base of the cross.

    After some time, the captains of the sea vessels began to draw this sign near the names of the dead sailors in the crew list in the ship's logbook. Around that time, among sailors, the symbol began to be associated with death. This was later used by pirates to intimidate their victims.



    The symbol of death entrenched in the culture was also used by the punitive brigades of the SS.



    But entering the mass pop culture, the conceptual meaning of the symbol is eroded. Now it is painted on backpacks, T-shirts, children's bodysuits and evenwater bottles !



    As another option, scientists have proposed explaining the meaning of the radiation symbol in the form of a story.



    But if you read the story from the bottom up, it looks as if a person has found a source of eternal youth!

    In general, the final decision was never made. Although there are various alternative options, such as the introduction of information about the dangers of a given place into the mass consciousness through legends and folklore. In this way, information can be transmitted from generation to generation. For example, the composer Emperor X wrote for this song “Do not change your color, cat” .



    In addition to songs, it is possible to introduce information into the mass consciousness in other ways. But this is also not a guaranteed way.

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