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Internet after the apocalypse

  1. Apr 6, 2014 #1
    I know this question is really stupid, but i was wondering, what if the entire world is destroyed, and millions of years later, Humans are creates again, and they manage to make a computer, which is compatible with todays internet servers. Honestly, i dont even know for sure how the internet is stored, but i do know its everywhere. So if all the gadgets were destroyed, would it still exist. And could it be accessed milllions of years later?
    P.S. I know this question is really dumb.
     
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  3. Apr 6, 2014 #2

    phinds

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    No, the internet is a physical network that would not survive. If a new civilization invented computers, they would eventually create something equivalent to the internet, because the utility would be obvious as technology advanced (exactly as happened this time around).
     
  4. Apr 15, 2014 #3

    DHF

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    It would however be an entirely new network and the new civilization would not be able to access anything that had previously been stored on the original Internet. As Phinds said, the Internet is a physical object. If humanity vanished today, the Internet as we know it would cease to exists as soon as the power grids failed and once the last two computers networked lost power, the internet would be gone. Certainly gone millions of years from now as not only will the computers be gone but likely most if not all structures we have ever built will have been devoured by the ever changing Earth.
     
  5. Apr 15, 2014 #4

    adjacent

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    Also read this.
     
  6. Apr 15, 2014 #5
    Thanks everyone
     
  7. Apr 16, 2014 #6
    We know what clay tablets, papyrus, parchment and paper do. Fired clay tablets last thousands of years in soil and stay readable (lower bound, they were made only in a few thousand years - cave paintings have lasted tens of thousands of years, stone tools millions of years, so would clay tablets also stay readable in millions of years?) Papyrus and parchment also last thousands of years in dry desert sand or in a dry tomb, but rot in a few years in a moist soil. And again last longer in waterlogged soil.

    Most computer information is stored on hard discs. How legible is a hard disc drive after, say, 10 years of burial in an archeological context, like a rubbish dump or the ruins of a house that collapsed on the computer?
     
  8. Apr 16, 2014 #7

    DHF

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    It is Ironic that with all the technology we have at our command to transmit and store information, old school methods like books and stone tablets hold the title for longevity. Without maintenance, just about every form of digital storage has a lifespan of decades. Even if Archaeologists from the distant future unearthed a heavily protected data archive center with hardrives kept in clean rooms that were not disturbed, in all likelihood the drives would be empty, the data having long since faded from the platters. Even if there was data left after millions of years and even if some of it was somehow not corrupted by degradation, it would be nothing short of a miracle for said archaeologists to be able to decipher any of the information.
     
  9. Apr 16, 2014 #8
    Optical media made of metals and plastics and stored properly may last for a very long time. If the end of civilization were near, and we knew about it, someone would probably store a lot of information for whomever came about later on (from another planet, or whatever.)
     
  10. Apr 16, 2014 #9

    DHF

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    The optical disc itself would survive for a very long time but the information on the disc still needs to be recorded magnetically. on optical discs a laser heats up a pocket on the surface of the disc and then the information is magnetically encoded before the bubble cools. but over time that information will fade. For all our advances, the only way to ensure information is recoverable to a distant generation is to carve it in stone. Ironic but there it is. The Egyptians still trump our modern age when it comes to sheer longevity. Millions of years from now the only Remaining symbol of our civilization will probably be the voyager probe, assuming that it has not drifted into a star to impacted an asteroid. It will however be inert, having long since run out of power but I am not sure if the recording on the gold disc will remain, I am unsure what the life span on those recordings but NASA did take into account that it would be in transit for thousands of years and built accordingly and as we know NASA is the king of building beyond their specs, so it might be the last snipid of knowledge from our race to survive.
     
  11. Apr 16, 2014 #10

    micromass

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    Iodine-129 is a nuclear waste product and has a half life of 15.7 million years. Some of the uranium in nuclear weapons has a half life of 4 billion years. So I think it is safe to say that the last remaining traces of humanity would ironically be the radioactive waste. However, I am unsure that future civilizations will deduce our existence in some way from the radioactive waste.

    I don't know how reliable this site is, but it's all I could fine: http://www.worldwithoutus.com/did_you_know.html
    Apparently, in 7 million years there would still be Mt Rushmore, bronze statues and toxic waste. It would be interesting to see what the future civilizations would think of Mt Rushmore. Likely they would explain it as statues of our Gods.

    Or this: http://discovermagazine.com/2005/feb/earth-without-people I don't know how close to the truth it is though, it is probably very speculative.
     
  12. Apr 16, 2014 #11

    DHF

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    I have heard the reference to Mt. Rushmore as well. because of the material its carved from and the climate of its location, it does have a very high shelf life an many have speculate that it might be the last remaining man made structure on Earth. It is likely that future civilizations could excavate plenty of evidence that someone share the planet before them but if we are talking millions of years then most of what they would uncover would be fragments and ruins. Barring an unlucky meteor strike, the one sure evidence of our existence will be a flag and footprint on our nearest celestial neighbor.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  13. Apr 16, 2014 #12
    Would someone corroborate that there is magnetic material used to store information in an optical disk?
     
  14. Apr 16, 2014 #13

    Vanadium 50

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    We'd all be using the internet under RFC 1149.
     
  15. Apr 17, 2014 #14

    Borek

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    I think you are mistaking different technologies here. On a classic CD nothing is recorded magnetically, it is just an Al layer with punched pits. There are magneto optical disks, but that's something different.
     
  16. May 28, 2014 #15
    That is simply because we aren't TRYING to make things last for thousands of years. The things we find from ancient time are lucky accidents. If we set out to make something last for thousands or millions of years, I'm sure we'd have a good chance of succeeding.

    If we want to help revive a collapsed society, then what about lead writing and pictures suspended in transparent plastic? Styrofoam is supposed to outlast the pyramids, right?

    If writing for a more advanced civilization that could make copies: How long would a book on acid-free paper last if vacuum packed and then microwaved to kill bacteria?
     
  17. May 29, 2014 #16

    Ryan_m_b

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    This is very true. In fact you could argue that with planned obsolescence as a driver in the computer industry we're deliberately working away from long term storage. It's not necessarily an unethical business practice (though it can be) but given the rate of development in the field why invest in the R&D and production of a storage media to last decades when in just five years it will be a relic and in ten its not likely to be compatible with a lot of software.

    Interestingly there may come a time when this isn't the case. Moore's law can't go on forever, at some point simply sketching more transistors onto a 2D plane isn't going to be viable. Sure there will be over developments but unless any of them can promise the same reliability in terms of doubling that the lithography fabs have it might mean businesses focus on long term products.

    I suspect though that any effort to design a system capable of rebooting civilisation after a fall would have to be a big project, like the global seed vault in Norway. It would be an interesting project to say the least, up technological development throughout history is somewhat of a drunken walk influenced by all sorts of factors. Knowing what we know now how many ways would there be to skip certain "steps", and what would the ramifications be? Furthermore just how many people would it require? If only a thousand people make it to this reboot vault but a high tech economy needs one hundred thousand how do you plan for that? There's a lot of interesting questions tangled up in this.
     
  18. May 29, 2014 #17
    Probably you would want lots of little "science temples" all over the world, rather than one big structure as in the nuclear waste site. Really it only takes one in the right place.

    What would it say?
    - How electricity works.
    - How to make cement.
    - The periodic table and basic chemistry.
    - Sanitation and disease.

    I'm mainly thinking of something lasting 10,000 years or so. To go millions of years, the assumption is that the receiver is no longer human, but something new that evolved after humanity is wiped out.
     
  19. May 30, 2014 #18

    DHF

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    something lasting eons would require the documents to be specially crafted out of plastic sheets and the writing would need to be etched into the plastic as most inks would break down after a few centuries. 10,000 years of advance and we would come back to stone carved tablets in a sense :)
     
  20. May 30, 2014 #19

    Borek

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    Don't forget to use a material that is both indestructible and useless, otherwise our progeny will use it for something entirely different from the intended purpose.
     
  21. May 30, 2014 #20

    DHF

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    so the message should be made of Twinkies???
     
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