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May 22, 2009 8:40 AM   Subscribe

What 13,500 pages micro-etched into nickel looks like.

The Long Now Blog presents some fantastic photos of the data side of the Rosetta Disk, which archives more than 1500 languages on 13000+ pages. Bit of eye strain? No problem: the Rosetta Project offers an interactive version that allows you to browse the text. [previously]
posted by googly (35 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
...you should see what they can fit on a quarter.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:42 AM on May 22, 2009


I misread the post as "13,500 pages etched into a nickel," but the truth is still pretty cool.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:43 AM on May 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't see much use for this beyond being an art exhibit.
posted by reenum at 8:45 AM on May 22, 2009


seems like it's covering what may be an interesting endeavor,
but the description is vague, confusing, unprofessional, and too short.
posted by candyhammer at 8:46 AM on May 22, 2009


...and by that I don't mean googly's description on MeFi, but the writer's on the blog itself. sorry.
posted by candyhammer at 8:47 AM on May 22, 2009


reenum: Very Long-Term Backup
posted by leotrotsky at 8:51 AM on May 22, 2009


reenum: Do you also not understand the use of microfiche?

The Rosetta Project About page explains it pretty well.
posted by odinsdream at 8:53 AM on May 22, 2009


Here's the relevant bit:
The text begins at eye-readable scale and spirals down to nano-scale. This tapered ring of languages is intended to maximize the number of people that will be able to read something immediately upon picking up the Disk, as well as implying the directions for using it—‘get a magnifier and there is more.’

On the reverse side of the disk from the globe graphic are over 13,000 microetched pages of language documentation. Since each page is a physical rather than digital image, there is no platform or format dependency. Reading the Disk requires only optical magnification. Each page is .019 inches, or half a millimeter, across. This is about equal in width to 5 human hairs, and can be read with a 650X microscope (individual pages are clearly visible with 100X magnification).
posted by odinsdream at 8:55 AM on May 22, 2009


Does what it says on the nickel.
posted by defenestration at 8:58 AM on May 22, 2009


Does what it says on the nickel.

IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU'RE TOO CLOSE
posted by mazola at 9:00 AM on May 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really love how the page rows start to look like the Matrix as you zoom in…

Damnit, not every blurry row of glyphs have to be tied back to the matrix text. (Otherwise, keen stuff.)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on May 22, 2009


I believe that at some point, in the distant future, long after our civilization has collapsed and our history is nothing but dust, some archaeologist will come across this artifact and as a result, develop a revolutionary new theory that will completely change the way they look at the past;

Humans of the early twenty first century must have had really, really, good eyesight.
posted by quin at 9:04 AM on May 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


How big is that? By etched onto nickel they don't mean a nickel, do they? I can't find dimensions for it anywhere.
posted by graventy at 9:15 AM on May 22, 2009


"The Rosetta Disk is held in a four inch spherical container that both protects the disk as well as provides additional functionality. The container is split into two hemispheres with the three inch Rosetta Disk sitting in an indent on the flat meeting surface of the two hemispheres."
posted by googly at 9:18 AM on May 22, 2009


You can load these into specially designed guns, and kill people with YOUR WORDS.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:26 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


What exactly is the text they used for each language? Browsing around I can see that they're using the first page or so of Genesis, a gloss with translation to English, a description of the language (in English), a description of the sounds used in the language (in English), and at least one page of free form text (for one language it was a short traditional story and its translation into English).

Also, Genesis, really?
posted by jedicus at 9:35 AM on May 22, 2009


Oh and in at least one case they included/wasted space on a copyright notice, which I found hilarious. This thing is supposed to last 10,000 years. God help us if the copyright on some encyclopedia or other is relevant in AD 12,009.
posted by jedicus at 9:37 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


jedicus, if you have a problem with the Sonny Bono / Darkseid Copyright Extension and Anti-Life Education Act of 2012, you're more than welcome to write to your congressman about it.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:48 AM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love how it starts out:

Languages of the world: This is an archive of over 1500 human languages [more inside]

(at least I think that's what I think it should say)
posted by FishBike at 9:49 AM on May 22, 2009


Also, Genesis, really?
posted by jedicus


From leotrotsky's link:

Long Now board member Doug Carlston suggested that for the parallel common text of this modern Rosetta Stone we should use the book of Genesis, since it was most likely already translated into all languages already.
posted by marxchivist at 9:50 AM on May 22, 2009


You can load these into specially designed guns, and kill people with YOUR WORDS.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never ...

HEY QUIT HITTING ME WITH THAT DICTIONARY!
posted by Reverend John at 9:50 AM on May 22, 2009


Also, Genesis, really?

Well, beyond the obvious symbolism (Genesis meaning the start, the beginning, birth), they chose it because they (thought) it would be easy to come up with 1,000 translations already in existence. Turned out not to be the case.
posted by stbalbach at 9:53 AM on May 22, 2009


Also, Genesis, really?

That was actually my first thought too, but I think it probably is one of the most highly translated works in existence.
posted by graventy at 9:59 AM on May 22, 2009


I really love how the page rows start to look like the Matrix as you zoom in…

I really love people whose allusions and descriptive powers reach all the way back to pop-culture movies from ten whole years ago. I would have looked at that for a long time before I thought of this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:14 AM on May 22, 2009


...which archives more than 1500 languages on 13000+ pages.

One scratch and you wipe out Mingrelian forever. One sneeze and the Pama-Nyungan languages are buried under a pall of mucus.

Personally, I'm going to use this to further my attempts to wipe out Welsh: 'Stop speaking like backwards Clangers! We've etched your language on a piece of nickel the size of a fly turd, what more do you want?'

Of course, on a serious note, if The Long Now is about contemporary awareness through the medium of future reflexivity, then keep going, you're making us all sit up and think!
posted by Sova at 10:16 AM on May 22, 2009


i wonder if these can be mass-produced and/or given a protective glass coating to prevent scratching...it's well past time for a good replacement for microfiche. also, i wish i could see some of the individual pages...can the process do photos/images, or just text?

Humans of the early twenty first century must have had really, really, good eyesight.

lol, this reminds me of 'motel of the mysteries' an archaeological spoof set in the distant future and featuring a complete misinterpretation of every artifact found at a motel six...very funny stuff (btw, our culture was wiped out by a clerical error at the post office that reduced the cost of fourth-class mail by 95% resulting in the united states being completely buried under a half-mile blanket of junk mail. very sad.)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:18 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like to also note that my coolness makes the article's Matrix reference into the proverbial pea beneath my pop culture mattress.

*sips latte*
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:33 AM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


the Flanklin Mint is going to be all over this.

they might have chosen an issue of Reader's Digest, but Genesis has got to be a close second for their clientelle, right?
posted by klanawa at 11:33 AM on May 22, 2009


er... Franklin Mint
posted by klanawa at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2009


Hobo Nickels
posted by not_on_display at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2009


i wonder if these can be mass-produced and/or given a protective glass coating to prevent scratching...it's well past time for a good replacement for microfiche. also, i wish i could see some of the individual pages...can the process do photos/images, or just text?

No offense, but did you read the site? They already have a demo in a protective coat, they want to mass-produce them, and the entire page-set is viewable online where you can see that they do in fact have the ability to do images, as long as they're black and white.
posted by odinsdream at 1:05 PM on May 22, 2009


sticks and stones will break my bones, but i always will be true,
and when your mama is dead and gone, i'll sing this lullabye just for you,
and what becomes of all the little boys, who never comb their hair,
well they're lined up all around the block, on the nickel over there.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:22 PM on May 22, 2009


No offense, but did you read the site?

RTFA? why would i want to do that? i'd much rather you spoon-feed it to me. and i want you to make airplane noises while you do it. ;)
sorry, the first two links looked like they went to the same place, and the links on the top of those pages are all stacked up on top of each other in my browser for some reason. the third link i didn't see for some reason...so, hmmm, yes, seems like it can do line drawings but not photos, but it's hard to tell as this looks like a PDF of the document, not the document on the nickel itself. looks like these are scanned documents though, and halftoning shouldn't be too much of a technological hurdle...but for it to be suitable for microfiche, it needs to be able to have photos...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2009


I don't see much use for this beyond being an art exhibit.

Ahh the hubris of the pre-apocalypse era! If that disk hadn't exist, my translators wouldn't work, and without those you wouldn't understand a word of my mockery, so there would be no incentive to joy-ride here in dad's time machine.

Mocking you is a better use for that disk than an art exhibit.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2009


Metafilter: i want you to make airplane noises while you do it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:09 PM on May 23, 2009


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