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Information Equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

  1. Dec 4, 2011 #1
    I was wondering if there is currently a project by some government or NGO, in the same spirit as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, to digitize all information (history, math/science, literature, etc.) and store it either somewhere safe on the planet or better yet on some other celestial body in our solar system, to prepare for what seems to me to be the reasonably likely chance of catastrophic climate change resulting in human extinction.

    I'm not trying to discuss climate change itself in this thread, as I understand that topic is prohibited, but for those who feel the way I do this would seem like an awfully good idea and maybe something NASA ought to be focused on rather than exploring Mars for life, not that that wouldn't normally be a good idea under less dire circumstances. Maybe with some sort of really long lasting battery for emitting regular pulses of radio waves so that in a billion years when some other species comes along they can find this relic and learn about us. Although I'm guessing we don't yet have the technology for such a long lasting battery =[.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2011 #2


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    A classic science fiction scenario played out on Startrek as well as others - a space faring race comes across an ancient civilization and is able to access countless terabytes of information saved by the now extinct civilization.

    I would think that at present any politician who would propose such a scheme would be considered as not using tax dollars to the benefit of his constituents and their brethen, the human race.
    And if the human race is extinct, then why would you care as you would be extinct also.

    Nontheless, your idea does have an enticing feature of attempting to explain and promote a legacy of the human race, to any races or humanoids out there.
  4. Dec 4, 2011 #3
    Yes, that makes me very sad to hear you say that such an idea coming from a politician would be considered ludicrous by the general public, although I fear you're probably right. If we can't save future generations I would hope the least we could do is save all the knowledge we've so far accumulated.

    I imagine any race capable of making the deep space journey to our solar system would likely have already worked out most of our math and science for themselves, but you never know what they might have missed, and they would still probably find all the information on our culture and history quite fascinating.

    I'm not trying to turn this into an overly speculative thread either, as I imagine that's prohibited as well, but I bet the planetary scientists/enthusiasts on this forum could probably contribute their own ideas to how such a feat could be accomplished with current technology.

    For instance I was reading about the life cycle of our Sun and it seems that Earth is going to spiral in to it in a few billion years when it becomes a red giant, so we'd probably have to stick this relic somewhere farther out. And if Earth becomes like Venus it probably wouldn't be a safe place to store it anyways. I imagine we would want a dead planet/natural-satellite, no plate tectonics, little atmosphere etc. Somewhere very cold and not likely to be bombarded by a lot of cosmic debris.
  5. Dec 4, 2011 #4
    I remember such a scifi short story (but I can't remember the author) along these lines where the visiting race finds strips of images and works out how to build a cine projector.

    When they have watched the film showing a figure running about across a busy road and being constantly knocked down by traffic they remark what a dangerous place this world was.

    Because they can't read the writing they don't understand the final frame which says.

    Mickey Mouse
    Copyright Walt Disney productions

    go well
  6. Dec 4, 2011 #5


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    To be honest I would never consider this a project worthy of public funding. For a start it does nothing to help us now or in the future, it is a purely aesthetic project based on the hope that if the human race was destroyed some alien race in the far future can dig up this time capsule and remember us (a far easier thing to do would be to transmit wikipedia to the heavens).

    A similar project I wouldn't mind public funding going towards would be a series of vaults that store things like seed stock, information (in various formats plus readers), tools and technology all designed so that in the event of some sort of doomsday scenario the surviving members of our race will have a marginally easier time rebuilding.

    Having said that if any politician were to suggest this now I would think he's blown a gasket. We've got far bigger issues to deal with than an expensive project designed to help us in event of Armageddon. When the economic climate was better if the government wanted to get together with some NGOs or private groups I perhaps wouldn't mind.
  7. Dec 5, 2011 #6


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    After doomsday ( depending on how severe ), most likely such a vault would be found and explored as an archaeological site by future generations and not by the immediate survivors.
    For one thing, most of the general population would not know about it, and if they did know, would not be able to locate it, or access it.

    I can forsee in my pessimistic view, military and governance guarding the vaults if found by them, then deemed in the "national interest", and quite possibly impose censureship and controlled access to the information.
  8. Dec 5, 2011 #7


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    This isn't about earth science. Moved.
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