Do not dig or drill before 12,000 AD
January 3, 2008 8:23 PM   Subscribe

The site must be marked: What is here is dangerous(?) and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger...This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

Full document describing the marking plan here(pdf).
posted by never used baby shoes (79 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
*Slams thread closed*
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:28 PM on January 3, 2008


This is why we need a moon base. Just cart the stuff up there on the space elevator.
posted by Pants! at 8:30 PM on January 3, 2008


AIDS
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:38 PM on January 3, 2008


That "Expert Judgement on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion" is a really fascinating document, thanks.
Vertical masonry markers alone are simply not enough [..] they will be seen as much like markers on other sites, which are generally sites of far less import, and also tend to be marked because they are honorific or commemorative, the opposite of the message we seek to send.
posted by freebird at 8:41 PM on January 3, 2008


Very interesting. It reminds me a little of the Carl Sagan plaques on the Voyager probes, although somehow more sinister.

Since I think nuclear power is going to be a major fixture in the not-too-distant future, whether we like it or not, we'd better get used to building long-lasting warning signs.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:44 PM on January 3, 2008


Man, this will never work, for so many reasons.

However, I do find the process behind it fascinating. If I didn't think that this project will get lost among miles of red tape, I'd be excited to see what they would come up with.
posted by god hates math at 8:44 PM on January 3, 2008


"This is why we need a moon base. Just cart the stuff up there on the space elevator."

Not worth the risk of an accident scattering it in the atmosphere. It's bad enough transporting it on roads. If you could get it out of the earth's gravity well safely, no reason to dump it on the moon, just send it on out of the solar system.
posted by Manjusri at 8:47 PM on January 3, 2008


I think this is a duplicate of an older post, but it's nice to have updated links.
posted by RichardP at 8:49 PM on January 3, 2008


"If you could get it out of the earth's gravity well safely, no reason to dump it on the moon, just send it on out of the solar system."

You may be absolutly right, but somehow this feels like the thinking we've used all along... just get it out of our backyard and all will be well... until our backyard extends a bit further, then we've got a problem....
posted by HuronBob at 8:51 PM on January 3, 2008


Double.
posted by Arturus at 8:52 PM on January 3, 2008


Oh, and my favorite line: "This place is not a place of honor."
posted by Arturus at 8:53 PM on January 3, 2008


Does this mean it will take 10,000 years before everyone understands abstract sculpture?
posted by Tube at 8:54 PM on January 3, 2008


Well, shoot...I thought I was different enough from the thread RichardP mentions (I wanted to focus on the warning system), but I completely missed the thread Arturus references in my search. Sorry MeFi.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:56 PM on January 3, 2008




I'm pretty sure there's another one out there too, because I seem to remember participating in one not too long ago, but I can't find it just now.
posted by Arturus at 9:00 PM on January 3, 2008


I agree with god hates math; the ideas presented in the Expert Judgment seem well thought out, right up until they said that a good marker would be a public-works project on the order of the Panama Canal, or even bigger. Then they followed up that admission with this gem:
[I]t is largely a self-correcting process if anyone intrudes without appropriate precautions, and it seems unlikely that intrusion on such buried waste would lead to large-scale disasters. An analysis of the likely number of deaths over 10,000 years due to inadvertent intrusion should be conducted. This cost should be weighted against that of the marker system.
Let's think like a politician for a second: we can either spend a fortune, building something that will rival the Pyramids in order to mark our trash, or we can just tape a "Beware of Dog" sign to the fence when we turn out the lights, and hope that our ancestors find Darwin Awards as hilarious as we do.

I wonder which one will end up happening...?
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:02 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, we need a moon base. Marked with a large mirror-finish obsidian obelisk.

If we could get it all up into orbit (and I personally would want a safer method of doing that than rockets) the thing to do would be to plunge it into the sun, not bury it on the moon.

What would happen if our civilization unearthed an archaeological marker that unambigously conveyed "Don't dig any deeper here. It's dangerous. No, really, don't." Count the milliseconds before someone couldn't resist opening the tomb. It's like labeling any button "Do not press this button."
posted by XMLicious at 9:12 PM on January 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's like labeling any button "Do not press this button."

The beautiful, shiny, jolly, candy-like button?
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:16 PM on January 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don't look for it, Taylor – you may not like what you find...
posted by Tube at 9:25 PM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's like labeling any button "Do not press this button." --XMLicious

The beautiful, shiny button!
posted by Bugg at 9:30 PM on January 3, 2008


I honestly fail to see the problem here and I'm calling it a small taxpayer boondoggle.

We currently mine in areas fraught with all sorts of real, impending danger, radiation among them. Do we assume that the miners 1,000 years from now will be ignorant of risk? No Geiger counters in the future? Why do we assume the future of the human race is that we're all a bunch of mindless Eloi chasing butterflies down holes, unaware of the evil Halliburton Morlocks of the past?

Turn that assumption on its head. Maybe these people of the future are super-smart and have a clean, eco-friendly processing use for radioactive waste. Maybe we should be providing instructions on where to find it and how to dig it up?

Yeesh. Just slap some concrete on it, write "danger" in a bunch of languages and be done with it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:34 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


XMLicious - I think one way to combat this is achieved by leaving the "hot cell" (which I assume is where they actually process the radioactive materials right now) sitting around on the surface, presumably radioactive. Anyone who gets too nosy ought to find that before they go digging, and hopefully understand that we're not joking about the nature of the hazard.

One idea that occured to me when reading about the markers was the possibility of 'salting' the concrete used to make a marker with one of the longer-lived radioactive isotopes that's buried underground. It seems like the most universal, culturally and linguistically-neutral indicator of radioactivity would be radioactivity itself. Plus, by solving the mystery ("here's what's in there, dumbass") you take away what would seem to me to be the biggest reason to dig: wanting to know what's buried and was considered so dangerous, exactly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:44 PM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes! I read the original thread on this and looooved it. I can't tell you how many people I've told about this. This is fascinating.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:44 PM on January 3, 2008


Don't look for it, Taylor – you may not like what you find...

We're entering a realm where we just don't belong...
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:46 PM on January 3, 2008


What would happen if our civilization unearthed an archaeological marker that unambigously conveyed "Don't dig any deeper here. It's dangerous. No, really, don't." Count the milliseconds before someone couldn't resist opening the tomb.

Well, that's why it's a self-correcting process.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:53 PM on January 3, 2008


I always wondered if people thousands of years ago tried to leave us similar warnings. Maybe the Parthenon stands for the principle: "don't bother with democracy, you end up with jackasses." Or Petra is really just an elaborate message constructed to tell us "do not elect a member of the Bush family to be president, and if you do, certainly don't elect his son, and really, really don't reelect him. Honest." I always suspected that Stonehedge was a way for the ancients to warns us about mercury and fish. Those who cannot read the signifiers of the past are doomed to eat starkist, I suppose.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:59 PM on January 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


People are entirely too optimistic about the state of human affairs in 12,000 years. How do we know we wont end up obliterating ourselves? That is about 2-4 times longer than we can go back in our history with some accuracy (with exceptions of some stray clay tablets and scraps of papyrus).

How will people of the future be able to interpret our 'ancient' scratches and markings any different than people did to the egyptian tombs, which also said: Do not enter, death awaits you! in the language and symbology of the time?

12,000 years is enough time for an entire civilization to collapse and entirely different one to be rebuilt many times over. Are we to assume there will never be another dark age (especially now everything is digital, what happens when the power goes out? and all the manuals and documentation on how to build a new generator only exists on computers that wont turn on).
posted by mrzarquon at 10:00 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some say "double," but it's new to me and I'm fascinated. Thanks.
posted by donovan at 10:23 PM on January 3, 2008


How do we know we wont end up obliterating ourselves?

Well, we don't, but I suppose if we do kill ourselves, people randomly stumbling onto old nuclear waste dumps isn't a major concern, so it's not really a scenario that you need to deal with if you're designing a nuclear-waste-dump marking system. (I guess you might need to deal with aliens, but if someone is smart enough to fly here, I'd hope they're smart enough to avoid a few tons of transuranic garbage.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:33 PM on January 3, 2008


Doublish but, just back from camping at abandoned WWII military base, this is spooky.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:33 PM on January 3, 2008


Something in a giant skull, maybe? Or maybe something involving non-Euclidean geometries.
posted by Ritchie at 10:35 PM on January 3, 2008


mrzarquon:

I first came across this project nearly ten years ago in the Gregory Benford book Deep Time: How to Communicate Across Millenia.

Everything you bring up was covered by the designers of the project. That's why so few of the solutions use printed language of any type, but instead rely upon making the area inhospitable or conveying the message via geometric/landscape/architectural archetypes that will even encourage primitive future-people to pass on myths about how the place is Evil and shouldn't be approached for any reason.

A few square miles of giant thorns? Trust me, our descendants will be sacrificing virgins/criminals/Gila Monsters to it at a distance of miles away in hopes of preventing its spread--no pictograph or character-based signs required.
posted by sourwookie at 10:42 PM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Or maybe something involving non-Euclidean geometries

Um, that's not actually, you know, possible.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 PM on January 3, 2008


That is the whole point of the project: How to protect those innocents born after the collapse of civilization.

To say it doesn't matter what happens to people born after we obliterate ourselves if fuck-headed and selfish. That's also the same type of thinking that made us obliterate ourselves and probably deserve it. Why cry over the condor when you can't look after you descendants?
posted by sourwookie at 10:46 PM on January 3, 2008


Or maybe something involving non-Euclidean geometries

Cool. Show me how.
posted by sourwookie at 10:47 PM on January 3, 2008


Tribal Elder, to young man coming of age: Plant your corn two moons after the last frost, and you must never venture where those parallel walls intersect.
posted by sourwookie at 10:51 PM on January 3, 2008


Isn't this thing going into the middle of a desert? So what primitive Eloi types will want to live / farm in the middle of a desert? Just bury the thing - if people are smart enough to find / notice it, they'll be smart enough to detect the danger.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:04 PM on January 3, 2008


If it is buried, It will be impossible to detect unless marked. Over tens of millenia, who can guarantee it will be inhospitable desert?
posted by sourwookie at 11:07 PM on January 3, 2008


So what primitive Eloi types will want to live / farm in the middle of a desert?

Who, Indeed?
posted by sourwookie at 11:10 PM on January 3, 2008


I think drilling is the real issue here. You won't be able to detect the radiation above ground but once you start drilling you may discover that the WIPP site is situated over pockets of pressurized brine. Fun for miles.
posted by pointilist at 11:12 PM on January 3, 2008


One of the big tricks will be to make it out of something future peoples will not want to harvest or reclaim.
posted by sourwookie at 11:13 PM on January 3, 2008


<pedant>
The surface of a sphere is non-Euclidean, so, actually, it's not that hard to do. It's just also not really that threatening.
</pedant>
posted by MadDog Bob at 11:33 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


XMLicious - I think one way to combat this is achieved by leaving the "hot cell" (which I assume is where they actually process the radioactive materials right now) sitting around on the surface, presumably radioactive. Anyone who gets too nosy ought to find that before they go digging, and hopefully understand that we're not joking about the nature of the hazard.

Unless that makes them say "Oh, wow, look at this scientifically fascinating stuff that doesn't seem to exist anywhere else on the surface of the earth at this point."

Or it will be interpreted as the equivalent of the giant spherical boulder that chases down Indiana Jones after he's stolen the golden idol - a defense mechanism.

Or maybe something involving non-Euclidean geometries.

Because that always successfully warns people away from unleashing unspeakable ancient horrors in the H. P. Lovecraft novels. Not.
posted by XMLicious at 11:40 PM on January 3, 2008


sourwookie- in a round about way, that is what I was getting at. I was meaning to respond to people up thread who were saying "just slap some signs on it, they will read it, and if the signs blow away, their geiger counters will warn them off".

This and the Pioneer/Voyager space probes have always fascinated me. How do you communicate one way with a group of "intelligent" beings you cannot make any assumptions about (except that they have a logic / reasoning / learning abilities).

So how can you write a message that can be self decoded by anyone who is inclined to investigate it? I can't even comprehend where to start with something of this scale that I think would work even 50% of the time.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:42 PM on January 3, 2008


...non-Euclidean geometries

Cool. Show me how.


The precession of the perihelion of Mercury (á la Einstein's prediction through general relativity, which has been confirmed) is an example of non-Euclidean geometry, at least in three-dimensional space. But as MadDog Bob and H.P. Lovecraft point out, that sort of picture would not be especially threatening.
posted by XMLicious at 11:51 PM on January 3, 2008


Some people might think it looks downright hospitable. The Lagoon Hotel, Dubai.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:46 AM on January 4, 2008


Heh heh. Welcome to the luxurious Grand Regency Cthulu!
posted by XMLicious at 12:59 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


A few square miles of giant thorns? Trust me, our descendants will be sacrificing virgins/criminals/Gila Monsters to it at a distance of miles away in hopes of preventing its spread--no pictograph or character-based signs required.

Maybe we should bootstrap this culture of sacrificing virgins now just to make sure a system is already in place when the apocalypse comes.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 1:05 AM on January 4, 2008


MetaFilter: This is not a place of honor.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 2:14 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


10,000 years is an awful long time for us little humans. I think its unlikely that our descendants (assuming we have any) 5,000 years from now will be able to read English, or perhaps even comprehend our pictograms.

Whats really interesting to me, above and beyond the interesting designs, is the un-stated assumption that our distant descendants will be living an almost stone-age lifestyle. As others have pointed out, a geiger-counter and a working knowledge of radioactivity should be enough to ward off a semi-advanced civilization from the site.

So, for whatever reason, scientists at the Department of Energy are designing facilities for a "Planet of the Apes" future.

Interesting.
posted by Avenger at 3:17 AM on January 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Some say "double,"...

And that kind of demonstrates the problem well; if we can't recall what happened a few years ago, how do we communicate things across centuries?
posted by TedW at 5:10 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why don't we just lob it into the sun?
posted by chlorus at 5:19 AM on January 4, 2008


One of the big tricks will be to make it out of something future peoples will not want to harvest or reclaim.

I'm of the view that at some point in the future our descendants will find WIPP and think "Holy crap! Look at all this freaking awesome radioactive shit! What the hell kind of treasure vault is this? OMG, it's worth trillions! I'm rich!"

...after all, just because we don't have a use for it doesn't mean someone/something won't find a use given sufficient time. Hell, we'll probably be mining our own dumps in a few decades, to extract the precious precious plastics and heavy metals.
posted by aramaic at 5:58 AM on January 4, 2008


We should seed the area with mechanical titans designed to destroy any invader. See 'Shadow of the Colossus' for an example implementation.

Since the universe thrives upon mystery, we should do this even if we don't actually bury anything harmful.
posted by Kikkoman at 6:20 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think Terry Pratchett but it best in Hogfather:
The senior wizards of Unseen University stood and looked at the door.

There was no doubt that whoever had shut it wanted it to stay shut. Dozens of nails secured it to the door frame. Planks had been nailed right across. And finally it had, up until this morning, been hidden by a bookcase that had been put in front of it.

"And there's the sign, Ridcully," said the Dean. "You have read it, I assume. You know? The sign which says 'Do not, under any circumstances, open this door'?"

"Of course I've read it," said Ridcully. "Why d'yer think I want it opened?"

"Er ... why?" said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.

"To see why they wanted it shut, of course." *

* This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization. At least, those bits of it that are now under the sea, fenced off or still smoking.
If any monkey curiosity survives in those humans 12000 years from now they will be drawn to anything that took a lot of work to create, even if only to see if there's really deadly waste under this warning sign.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:29 AM on January 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think in order to communicate with someone from the future use something that will remain the same forever. Math comes to mind. 1 + 1 will always be 2.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:14 AM on January 4, 2008


Interesting thing, is that the less technically sophisticated our descendants are, the fewer of them would die due to curiosity simply due to their numbers. So you either have super-tech geiger counters of which none will die, or no-tech hunter/gathers of which a few dozen will die before that tribe is gone, or figures it out. Either way, simply marking it is probably enough, and accept that even a few thousand people over a 10000 year period isn't too many.
posted by cschneid at 7:56 AM on January 4, 2008


Whats really interesting to me, above and beyond the interesting designs, is the un-stated assumption that our distant descendants will be living an almost stone-age lifestyle.

While that does seem to be one of the driving assumptions (and I think it has to be -- we have to consider that a society without advanced technology could be poking around there), I think we also have to look at the fact that our forms of communication have changed significantly in the past 1,000 years (consider trying to read Beowulf or the Charter of Cnut today). It may be that in another 1,000 years, even with continued advancement, the records of today will be as difficult to access.

I would hope that someone, somewhere, would attempt to keep them current with the times, but you never know.


I'm calling it a small taxpayer boondoggle.

You have a good point there, Cool Papa Bell. In some ways, it does look like a PR exercise - a way of trying to deal with critics and those concerned with the disposal of this waste. However, as a thought experiment and examination of how we communicate, it is very fascinating.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:07 AM on January 4, 2008


They are designing the message for a stone age civilization because, in the small chance we don't blow ourselves back to Planet of the Apes, people will just look up in their genetically encoded goog-wiki-meta-pedia "WIPP" and either stay the fuck away, or, digg up a handful so they can shove it into the fusion-o-matic on their Deloren. Then have wacky, wacky, hijinks.

In other words, it is specifically for the worst case scenario. It doesn't assume that civilization will be gone, but, if things really go sideways, and some sort of intelligent life stumbles upon this site but does not yet have the technology or understanding to deal with it, how do we keep them safe.

To further ramble, I think it's a great thought exercise, but I bet dollars to donuts that we figure out how to use the remaining energy in the 'waste' well before we really start pilling any large amount of stuff in there.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 8:09 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


The article mentioning the dumping site in Carlsbad, NM has a whole section on how we can't understand languages from the dark ages, so its futile to put any markings on nuclear waste sites and therefore we shouldn't have nuclear power to create these sites because people will not be able to read them in the future.

Apparently these morons haven't heard of Latin, Greek, or Hebrew or any of the other languages that we can still read and interpret after 1000+ years.

The fallacy of these activists' ideas lies within their advocacy of renewable resources while opposing renewable resources (still burning carbon fuels though). The dumber ones think that wind and solar power can replace mainstream sources of energy, and they all oppose nuclear power even though its the only thing that we have at this current time that can stop global warming. (It's simple, Coal + Electric car = Carbon Emissions, Nuke + Electric car = Nuclear waste dump in the middle of the desert)

These extreme environmentalists (I consider myself one, but not to this extent) choose to oppose everything with negative environmental impacts regardless of the immediate needs of mankind and subconsciously hope that the magical energy unicorn with scamper down from Candyland and shoot a ray of love energy into a gumdrop solar panel and power iMacs and Ice Cream shops forever and ever for all the little children of the world!
posted by hellslinger at 8:32 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Click the question mark link. It is the most important part of the post.

The science and math are sound and it points out that the whole 'problem' with nuclear waste is not that at all. We're being led down the wrong path by our emotions not by thinking this stuff through.

Nuclear waste is safer than some agricultural waste and is stored much more safely. Why we aren't moving to nuclear power rapidly is beyond me.
posted by Fuka at 9:27 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do not press the red button!
posted by monospace at 10:05 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why haven't we figured out how to make energy from radiation?
posted by pithy comment at 10:09 AM on January 4, 2008


Metafilter: This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.
posted by WCityMike at 11:19 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why haven't we figured out how to make energy from radiation?

We haven't but the life-form that will probably evolve into an unstoppable nuclear-powered killing machine has.
posted by XMLicious at 11:25 AM on January 4, 2008


Why haven't we figured out how to make energy from radiation?

Serious? Isn't that what Nuclear Energy IS?
posted by hellslinger at 12:26 PM on January 4, 2008


Risky business, attempting to second-guess our descendants c320 generations hence. Most of these surface solutions are so highly planned, they will inevitably intrigue and fascinate future explorers more than they will deter them. The manufactured ruins will also intrigue - we're drawn to ruins, for building materials as much as for study.

"Black Hole": A masonry slab, either of black Basalt rock,or black-dyed concrete, is an image of an enormous black hole; an immense nothing; a void; land removed from use with nothing left behind; a useless place. It both looks uninhabitable and unfarmable, and it is, for it is exceedingly hot part of the year. Its blackness absorbs the desert's high sun-heat load and radiates it back. It is a massive effort to make a place that is fearful, ugly, and uncomfortable.

This is, IMHO, the best idea. Maybe it could be improved by making it concave. Structures that protrude above the line of the surface will inevitably attract attention and suggest enclosure. A man-made crater suggests absence, removal, and it's better to imply that there's nothing at the site than to imply that there's something dangerous and weird at the site. A concave slab would, however, create some shade, making the heating aspect less effective, a payoff that should be considered. Water gathering at the bottom and drying to leave pale deposits might be a problem, though.

Or you could actually poison the ground from a depth of 10m to 100m, figuring that the death of a handful of early diggers is a far more effective deterrent than anything structural or visual, and a small price to pay weighed against the worse consequences of opening the vault. Without even going into the nightmarish ethical considerations, how this could be done in a way that keeps the poison potent and does not risk it spreading beyon the zone or leaching into the water table ... Fascinating problem. Maybe we could carve some suitable manga into the rock as a warning.
posted by WPW at 12:51 PM on January 4, 2008


C'mon now, what ONE technology has already proven itself, time and time again? What one device has had the most success in area denial? We can achieve long-term efficacy by simply re-engineering an old favorite:

Land mines.

Preferably artificially intelligent, self-powered, mobile nuclear land mines with freaky spider-legs, octopus eyes and weird chittering voiceboxes. Think about it. We can do this! Our descendants demand it!
posted by aramaic at 1:27 PM on January 4, 2008


WPW- The massive blackrock surface would be an awesome sight to witness. However keeping some information on or underneath it detailing what it contains, what it does, and other locations like it would be useful, incase 6,000 years from now humans figure out how to process the radioactive waste as fuel, but never stop to think "hey, that big black ominous space in nevada must be chock full of fuel that would be handy to finally get rid of".

Of course, we could also just use robots
posted by mrzarquon at 1:44 PM on January 4, 2008


mrzarquon: I don't know, but maybe the more information the better. The trouble is that the more inscriptions you pile onto the thing, the more important it looks. I think that if their technology is advanced enough to convert spent fuel into useful fuel, then it'll be advanced enough for them to safely interrogate the site themselves.
posted by WPW at 2:58 PM on January 4, 2008


there is a tale from the '30s about an archaeolgist who opened an Egyptian tomb in spite of ancient warnings. (Howard Carter.?) (shades of Indiana Jones)

then there is Peter Parker, bitten by a radioactive spider, and became a super hero.
posted by lemuel at 4:29 PM on January 4, 2008


Preferably artificially intelligent, self-powered, mobile nuclear land mines with freaky spider-legs, octopus eyes and weird chittering voiceboxes.

Maybe throw a few Dune worms in there for the really persistent ones.

And don't forget that the entrance to the facility itself needs to be an electro-mechanical sarlacc pit.

Did you know that Jabba the Hut is in the category "fictional drug dealers" on Wikipedia?
posted by XMLicious at 6:21 PM on January 4, 2008


monospace, that link is excellent. Thank you!
posted by misha at 6:54 PM on January 4, 2008


It seems to me that concealment is the best solution. Remove any sign that humans ever worked the ground. Why attract people to the desert with outlandish, curiosity provoking obstacles?

Well below the surface, seed the earth with warnings, Rosetta spheres and nasty isotopes in containers that are built to last. Throw in some snake symbols for good measure. If our descendants keep digging past that, they either know what they're doing or they deserve what they get.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:59 PM on January 5, 2008


Serious? Isn't that what Nuclear Energy IS?

No, it's a steam powered generator fed by very hot metal that just happens to be radioactive.
posted by The Monkey at 5:01 AM on January 6, 2008


This was referenced in "The World Without Us. " Good book.

I like the first link a lot; this thought experiment should be on every college communications class' final exam.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:29 PM on January 6, 2008


No, it's a steam powered generator fed by very hot metal that just happens to be radioactive.

What makes it hot?
posted by hellslinger at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2008


Fission, driven by cascade reaction and bombardment by neutrons.
posted by Arturus at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2008


Fission, driven by cascade reaction and bombardment by neutrons.

Ahh, I see what's happened. Yeah, in a reactor it is controlled fission that makes it create steam, but fissile materials can be warm/hot to the touch in its pure form because they're radioactive and emit electromagnetic radiation and alpha particles.

So are we talking about getting energy from gamma rays? Because we can already get energy from other kinds of radiation (solar panels) and alpha particle emissions can't do a whole lot for making usable energy.
posted by hellslinger at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2008


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