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What materials stay unblemished after 1000s of centuries?

  1. Feb 29, 2016 #1
    I was wondering what materials will stay most unblemished after the 1000s of centuries of unforeseen wear such as corrosion, salt water, grinding, etc. Materials that are not very rare like gold or silver. I have looked into it and so far I've come across titanium, stainless steel, and their alloys and have also heard of some plastics and ceramics, but I can't find a definite answer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 29, 2016 #2
    I would bet few kinds of solid crystals should last a long time.
  4. Mar 2, 2016 #3


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    How can it be “unforeseen wear” if you predict it happening ? How will you know if the material was durable and so lasted ?
    How will you stop someone stealing and selling it for the scrap value ?

    Look for things still around from before the last ice age as an indication of blemish free survival.
    Diamond is hard but will burn in air. Ceramic / corundum might be worth considering.

    Small sections of mitochondrial DNA seems to hang around for quite some time by being successfully reproduced.

    There is no one answer to your open question. What are you really trying to do?
  5. Mar 2, 2016 #4
    Silicon oxide, not rare at all and very common component of many rocks and sand, is chemically very stable, but it's not a very hard substance physically.
    Easy enough to grind a rock into powder, but it still is silicon oxide.
  6. Mar 10, 2016 #5
    Not that i know what will happen over 1000 centuries but gold objects can be found as artefacts from Aztec's unblemished for a few hundred years so gold may be a safe bet but i am not sure
  7. Mar 10, 2016 #6
    stainless steel is an alloy
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2016
  8. Mar 10, 2016 #7


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    What is the size of your need? ie a small object could be Stainless Steel, gold or even a gold plated object of fairly large size with a relatively thick plating of gold. Gold is one of the more stable long lasting elements that holds up best to long term corrosion and is very easy to work. Large structures in the past were carved out of rock. These, however are only 20-30 centuries old and will probably be dust in a 100 centuries, regardless of what we do. Marble or granite may last 100-200 Centuries if it is protected from the elements, but any type of erosion will take its toll, so to speak.
    More details would be nice, but regardless, unless the item can be in a controlled environment, a 1000 centuries is asking for more than any known item short of a fossil which is not actually the original item (research fossilization).
  9. Mar 10, 2016 #8
    Amber. You know, the stuff with fossilized insects trapped in it for millions of years?
  10. Mar 10, 2016 #9


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    Stainless steel is only stainless in an oxygen rich environment. The presence of water with a lack of oxygen will result in rapid deterioration of SS which will form a black crumb.
    Any metal in the presence of sea water will dissolve over time. Some, such as bronze, dissolve very slowly.

    Every material has an Achilles heel, an environment in which it will be destroyed.
    Maybe, rather than a “materials” question, the OP has presented a “packaging and storage” problem.
  11. Mar 10, 2016 #10
    amber is its self no more than a fossil
    it is fossilised tree sap and so the sap has changed form over the centuries
  12. Mar 12, 2016 #11
    The oldest dated terrestrial materials are zircons, up to 4.4 Ga old, usually enclosed in other rocks. They can survive the disaggregation of their parent rocks and be re-aggregated in newer rocks. They're brittle, usually small "grains" (some of them are larger), and many other of their characteristics aren't impressive at all (although they're quite resistant to corrosion and heat.) But if you can still find some of them after 4.4 billion years and not anything else, I'd say they're good candidates as a very long lasting material against most environmental "aggressions." Those have survived erosion, transport, weathering, high-grade metamorphism, etc. for about 1/3 of the age of the universe.

    But without further info about what would you like to do with your material, I don't think we can provide you with better answers. Every material will have different properties playing for or against your intention.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  13. Mar 12, 2016 #12


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    Amber is a natural plastic resin that polymerises and cross links as the terpene plasticiser evaporates. The insects preserved in amber are initially desicated, then hermetically sealed. Both the amber and the enclosed insects are original material, there is no replacement mineralisation of either. Amber is called fossil because it can be found by digging a hole in the ground.

    I have found 37Ma amber in sediment. It was very brittle, like burned glass. Similarly, the plastics used in older automobiles become brittle and fragile with heat and time. Amber is probably not as good as clear epoxy for the preservation of insects. Amber is only durable because it is buried and protected in cool, dark undisturbed sediments. If you bury a hard epoxy you should get longer preservation.
  14. Mar 22, 2016 #13
    Gold and oxides.
  15. Mar 22, 2016 #14


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    And since the OP posted a month ago and hasn't been back in 3 weeks, I'd say we are wasting our time.
  16. Mar 30, 2016 #15


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    There was an interesting article some years ago in scientific american about what will remain of our civilization in several hundred, 1000 and 100000 years. A metal which is quite resistant is bronze (given that it has to be cheaper than gold and platinum metals).
    In earth's history, one of the most resistant materials is zirconium dioxide. Grains of zirconium dioxide have been found to have survived meltdown of the original rocks during subduction or orogenesis.
  17. May 14, 2018 #16
    sorry I totally forgot about this thread, I'm giving everyone a like because I appreciate all the help
  18. May 14, 2018 #17
    Hello again.
    Is the idea that you want to make something which could last long after life on Earth, and contain evidence of the life?
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