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Time Capsule

  1. Mar 22, 2009 #1
    Over a little group discussion 2 years ago, an idea of creating a time capsule designed for a lifespan of 500 to 1000 years came about. All of us being in our 60's+, it seemed like a worthwhile effort, and within the groups financial means if we didn't get to carried away.
    As of now, an outline of our brain storming is that the capsule be a 6'x4'x4' rectangular box, made out of titanium, for maximum corrosion resistance. Inside the titanium case, individual document storage areas would be made out of glass plate that is cut to fit to make the document cells, with the glass plates sealed together by lead joints such as used in the making of stain glass. This is to reduce the chance of reactivity between the capsules contents.
    To allow for earthquakes, temperature expansion and contraction, etc., it has been proposed that we use short Styrofoam standoffs between the glass cells and the titanium case to act as shock absorbers. Also that the document cells free space and case, be filled with argon.
    Most of the time capsules that we have been able to locate information on were almost totally dedicated to the cultural aspects of civilization. We have decided that ours will be devoted to the state of science today.
    To do this in a reasonable manner, we have decided to include technical science books and encyclopedias. Naturally printed on acid free paper.
    As much as it would simplify matters of the document storage, we have decided that digital storage is out of the question because the current digital storage methods lack reliable longevity beyond one decade, let alone 50 to 100 decades.
    As we have looked around for time capsule information, we've found that the longer the capsule is in storage, the greater the risk of it contents being lost to time, i.e. forgotten about. Also entering the equation of the capsules survivability are natural disturbances, such as land slides, volcanic eruptions, floods, and the affects of possible global warming.
    Consequently it has been suggested that we enclose some kind of alarm device that will activate in a reasonable time frame to the capsules selected "find me date".
    After a lot of brain storming we haven't a clue what type of device that could lay dormant for such a long period of time, and then, not only activate, but have the energy retained in it to do so. Springs, batteries, solar cells naturally would be out of the question. We kind of doubt some of the tomb protection devices in Indiana Jones would work.
    This forum is viewed by many practical and knowledgeable people, who at times have surprising insight to problems and issues. We could use your input if your interested into any aspect of this time capsules design. Material compatibility, science books to include, and especially some type of "here I am device". Or for that matter,anything else you feel could be related, and we're missing.
    One of the aspects of this project that was very surprising, (and I guess shouldn't have been) is how little thought today is given to creating something to last more than say a lifetime.
    And also, to how much of todays explosion of knowledge is going to be lost to time because most of it is in a digital form, that is already being lost through changes in software language, hardware design, to say nothing of storage disc decay. What is happening today to digital information, is what happened to the film industry, when it lost many films to the lack of the films material longevity that was used at the time.
    Even now, when we have asked several major paper companies for example, if their finest acid free paper will last 500 to 1000 years under ideal storage conditions, we get, "Huh? Why would you want to do that!?" It seems history is repeating itself.
    So some of us older types that are interested in the sciences, thought that we'd try and save a bit of that knowledge, as kind of a "bench mark" to those that may find our capsule.
    Or it could be that the finders will say, "At last something that isn't dust, that tells us how they did all those things X years ago."

  2. jcsd
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