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The Crypt of Civilization

Article #118 • Written by Alan Bellows

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In the basement of Phoebe Hearst Hall at Oglethorpe University in Georgia, there is a stainless steel vault door which was welded shut over sixty-five years ago. Behind this door lies a 20' x 10' waterproofed room containing a menagerie of once-modern artifacts and microfilm records, placed there by men and women in the years between 1937 and 1940. If their goal is realized, the contents of this vault will remain unseen and undisturbed for the next 6,107 years. This ambitious project, which began in the dawn of the Second World War, is known as the Crypt of Civilization; it represents the first concerted effort to collect and preserve a snapshot of human civilization and technology. Though the term had not yet been coined at its inception, it was the first modern time capsule.

The whole concept crept from the brain of Dr. Thornwell Jacobs in 1936, at which time he was the president of Oglethorpe University. While teaching and researching ancient history he was struck by the scarcity of information on ancient civilizations, so he conceived an idea to prevent the problem from occurring to those who might study our civilization in the future. His "crypt" was to contain a comprehensive record of civilization up to that time, as well as the accumulated knowledge of mankind. He recruited the assistance of Thomas Kimmwood Peters, and put him to the monumental task of recording the corpus of humankind upon a new medium known as "microfilm." Peters was singularly qualified for this task, given that he was the inventor of the first microfilm camera.

The fickle public seemed simultaneously inspired and troubled by the project. The scale of idea and its far-reaching scope were unlike anything attempted in modern history. The crypt was featured in publications and radio broadcasts worldwide, and Jacobs was thrilled by the attention the project had drawn. He described the crypt as his generation's "archaeological duty."

The target year for the crypt's future opening-- 8113 A.D.-- was arrived at by considering 1936 to be the halfway point to the future. 6,177 years had passed since the Egyptian calendar had been established in 4241 B.C., so Dr. Jacobs projected forward the same number of years from the date of his idea's birth. The fact that the inhabitants of 1936 thought of their time as a great pivot point in history speaks to the technological optimism of the generation, which is understandable considering that some of the greatest inventions in history began to make their early, high-profile appearances around that time.

Actual preparation of the crypt began at the University in 1937. The site chosen was a basement room which had previously held a swimming pool, which meant that its foundation was already designed to be impervious to moisture. The room was a ten-foot by twenty-foot subterranean cavity in the solid granite bedrock, about seven feet beneath the surface. The chamber was further prepared by raising its floor with concrete and covering the walls with porcelain enamel plates embedded in waterproof pitch.

For three years, Peters and a staff of student assistants captured and stored over 640,000 pages of documents onto microfilm, including religious texts such as the Bible and the Koran, and works of literature such as the Iliad and Dante's Inferno. In addition to the microfilm, Peters compiled photographs, motion pictures, and voice recordings of political leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Chamberlain, and Roosevelt. In order to make these materials accessible to the people of the future, there are glass magnifiers, as well as electrical projectors and players which can be powered with the included windmill-driven generator. Numerous "artifacts" from daily life and technology were also amassed and arranged in the chamber, including sewing machines, an early television, a telephone, mechanical watches, artwork, plant seeds, and much more.

Jacobs and Peters consulted with the U.S. Bureau of Standards for the best means of preserving the microfilm and artifacts for such an enormous span of time, and ultimately they opted to encase the sensitive items in sealed stainless steel receptacles with glass linings. Before they were sealed, all of the air was removed from these containers and replaced with nitrogen to prevent oxidation of the contents. As an added precaution, duplicates of the microfilm were made on metal film.

By 1940, the crypt was complete, and filled with stacks of sealed containers and objects representative of the time. On May 25 of that year, the crypt door was ceremoniously sealed in the presence of the city Mayor, the state Governor, and the U.S. Postmaster General among many others. The event was broadcast on the radio, and recordings were made of some of the profound things being uttered at the ceremony, to be used as some of the crypt's final additions. Also contributed in the closing moments was a steel plate from the Atlanta Journal, which headlined themes of the war in Europe. The stainless steel door was then closed and welded shut, giving the interior of the vault its last taste of light until 8113... if all goes according to plan.

Lacking the budget for poison darts and giant stone spheres, the builders of this crypt instead used a different deterrent against would-be early intruders: Guilt. A stainless steel plaque is mounted above the crypt's sealed entrance, begging any who encounter the crypt to leave its contents undisturbed until the year 8113.

The plaque reads:

This Crypt contains memorials of the civilization which existed in the United States and the world at large during the first half of the twentieth century. In receptacles of stainless steel, in which the air has been replaced by inert gasses, are encyclopedias, histories, scientific works, special editions of newspapers, travelogues, travel talks, cinema reels, models, phonograph records, and similar materials from which an idea of the state and nature of the civilization which existed from 1900 to 1950 can be ascertained. No jewels or precious metals are included.We depend upon the laws of the county of DeKalb, the State of Georgia, and the government of the United States and their heirs, assigns, and successors, and upon the sense of sportsmanship of posterity for the continued preservation of this vault until the year 8113, at which time we direct that it shall be opened by authorities representing the above governmental agencies and the administration of Oglethorpe University. Until that time we beg of all persons that this door and the contents of the crypt within may remain inviolate.

Of course, if an archaeologist today found a buried tomb whose inscription enjoined the finder not to open the door until some distant future date, it is doubtful that the wishes of the tomb's makers would be respected.

In the event that the Crypt of Civilization is opened by people who do not speak English as we know it, the room includes numerous pictographic representations of information, perhaps the most important of which describing the operation of the vault's "language integrator"-- the first piece of technology that one should encounter upon entering this technology tomb. Ironically, it seems that much of the information regarding this machine has been lost to the eroding effects of time, but it is said that this hand-powered English-teaching device was inspired by the Rosetta stone, yet based on the "Nickelodeon principle." It's vocabulary consists of only 1,500 words, a subset of our language called "Basic English" which was used in cryptographic codes in the first World War.

The usefulness of such time capsules has long been called into question by archaeologists and historians, because wild optimism was long ago supplanted by skepticism as the fashionable attitude. Time capsules' crippling fault lies not only in their questionable ability to weather the vast acres of time, but also in the fact that those responsible for the contents are presenting only what they want its openers to see. While gadgetry and documents are not completely lacking in historical value, their pristine condition says little about their role in everyday use. Be that as it may, the value to future historians is potentially incalculable.

Given the Crypt of Civilization's waterproofed underground location and surrounding granite terrain, it is probable that the vault will reach the year 8113 A.D. relatively intact. The area is not subject to much seismic activity, and though earthquakes there are not unknown, they are not anywhere near as frequent or as powerful as those in many other parts of the world.

To keep knowledge of the crypt alive, Dr. Thornwell Jacobs had plaques of cellulose acetate made which contain information about the Crypt of Civilization in many languages, and sent them to libraries, universities, monasteries, and temples around the world. Now Oglethorpe University-- the home of the modern world's first time capsule-- is home to the International Time Capsule Society (ITCS), an organization established in 1990 to promote the careful study and documentation of time capsules.

The current state of the crypt's contents is unknown, but the objects inside are presumed to be in good condition. However the sixty-five years which have passed since its door was welded shut is but a blink compared to the 6,107 years it has yet to traverse. Here's hoping it makes it to its destination in the future unscathed.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Pittman from Oglethorpe for providing the photo and other useful details.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 17 February 2006. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design by Alan Bellows.
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49 Comments
Stuart
Posted 17 February 2006 at 01:47 pm

While the information on the inside is in various languages the plaque outside is only in english isn't it? This means that unless someone who speaks english finds it, it'll undoubtedly just get opened out of curiosity. And the English language isn't set in stone. We would find it very difficult to have a proper conversation with someone from only a few hundred years ago because of the difference in dialect. Over 8000years the English language will change beyond all recognition, that is, if it isn't lost altogether. Still, we've managed to get an idea of the ancient Egyptians from hyroglyphics and artifacts left by them so this'll still be useful to future historians.


Chanticrow
Posted 17 February 2006 at 04:16 pm

Egads. I live a few miles from Oglethorpe, and have been there several times. I had no idea about this. That's damn interesting. I'll have to drive over one day and see if I can get a look at the door.

Maybe if the longevity treatments posted several weeks ago make good progress then some of our childrens' children could be around to see this opened. "Oh, look. It's a telephone. I haven't seen one of those in centuries!" Talk about nostalgia.


lateralus98
Posted 17 February 2006 at 05:51 pm

I think the door should include graphic symbols that someone could decipher in a few days. Trying to decipher a language takes a very long time. They should put pictures and symbols (and perhaps math equations?) next to the text on the plaque, this way future civilizations have a good clue on what the text is talking about.

My prediction is that the time capsule will be open in about 300 years or so by robbers. A working television or mechanical watch from the 20th century could be worth a lot on Ebay. It will get stolen, no doubt about it, it won't last 6000 years or whatever. That's too bad, it would be awesome if this project works out.


Alex
Posted 17 February 2006 at 06:21 pm

The given site link said:"5 records (miscellaneous)"

I wonder what records they are?


TDavis
Posted 17 February 2006 at 08:47 pm

For an interesting look at other Time Capsules, particularly those from 1939 and 1964, check out this article from Tales of Future Past.

http://davidszondy.com/future/timecapsule/timecapsules.htm


Arcangel
Posted 17 February 2006 at 11:11 pm

My money is on this time capsule not making it to the next century. However, should I be wrong, good luck collecting on this cause I'll be long gone.


Anonymous User
Posted 18 February 2006 at 12:20 am

Ok, a little logic here. What is the purpose of time capsules? To help future civilizations to understand the culture of a particular time and place.

HOWEVER, the artifacts placed within are artifically taken from their original contexts and put in an isolated place away from the culture of that particular time and place.

Subsequent generations between the launch date and the target date will have no direct access to the artifacts and therefore a lot people are prevented from learning.

Time capsules are useless versions of museums.


Ferrous Blood
Posted 18 February 2006 at 12:23 am

Fallout =)


Anonymous User
Posted 18 February 2006 at 02:03 am

very interesting. to the skeptics: this is THOUSANDS of years. ANY artifacts that are thousands of years old will be absolutely priceless in the future. Things this old just don't always last that long. the museams may or may not contain these artifacts 7000 years from now.


Marius
Posted 18 February 2006 at 05:36 am

Oft times I hear archeologists lament the lack of everyday stuff in their finds. We know how the Pharoas went to meet their makers, but what was their version of toilet paper? I cannot even begin to guess if this thing will last 6 millenia, but even if it makes it 500 years it will be an invaluable contribution to future knowledge. If nothing else it is a noble effort, and how many of those happen anymore?


googlegirl
Posted 18 February 2006 at 09:27 am

SPAM - deleted


JustAnotherName
Posted 18 February 2006 at 09:35 am


HOWEVER, the artifacts placed within are artifically taken from their original contexts and put in an isolated place away from the culture of that particular time and place.

Subsequent generations between the launch date and the target date will have no direct access to the artifacts and therefore a lot people are prevented from learning.

Time capsules are useless versions of museums."

LOL - I would think some future civilization would see it as a great find of our form of worship. Some new form of dating materials will put it at 700 BCE.


cbritt84
Posted 18 February 2006 at 10:09 am

I wonder if a cockroach from then is still wandering around in there..


Jmayhak
Posted 18 February 2006 at 11:32 am

I don't think cockroaches can survive without oxygen


AnonymousUser
Posted 18 February 2006 at 11:51 am

There's another possibility to consider OTHER than: the English language will be wiped out to the ravages of time or that our modern civilization will be forgotten in the ages past. Namely, that future generations will be WIDELY schooled on this most "documented" of ages.

As time and technology move forward, digitizing old documents, images and movies has become hegemony. The next generation of technology promises nothing less than complete preservation of "the knowledge that has come before." Certainly, there are no guarantees that this pattern will continue. However, barring some global disaster, there would be little to impede this trend.

Using comparisons of "our future" to ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, contravenes a most crucial component in the extrapolation of data from this past period in the hopes of using it for prognosticating a potential future. In a word, this missing component is "globalization."

The Egyptians knew little of the global world in their time. They knew little of geography or the peoples of the Americas or the Aborigines of Australia. They may not have even know about some cultures much closer to home for them. Certainly what they DID know was vastly superior to other cultures of the time. However, the preservation of "accumulated global knowledge" during this time (while impressive) lacked considerable forethought to global cultures or their potential changes.

In their historical time period, the Egyptians were perhaps the first civilization to truly attempt the idea of a "time capsule." And for all intents and purposes, it work! Pyramids, tombs, mummies and artifacts have stood the test of time quite admirably. However, in the global community of their time, they were merely a "pocket" of advanced technology. There was marginal (by today's standards) global awareness of others or others of them. Their world was one of "conquer or BE conquered." Whole libraries of knowledge were wiped out and that was perhaps our most lamentable lost. But these libraries (such as the Library of Alexandria) were similarly "pockets" of knowledge which were volatile to the whimsies of conquering armies.

In a global world, it becomes increasingly difficult to erase from the pages of history even the most simplest of reporting errors. Our ability to disseminate as well as archive global information increases at blinding speeds DAILY! We are only limited by our inability to process it.

"Data-mining" has become a term in our modern lexicon that addresses a bourgeoning technology allowing us to extract specific information from this global knowledge base which is connected to (or defined by) specific parameters. This is a formidable tool in the construction of future breakthrough technologies and further propagates the trend toward a globalized cultural melting-pot.

Present day "global consciousness" has made our modern world "smaller" and therefore MORE "homogenous." Surely, there is still GREAT cultural variety everywhere on this big blue ball, however, the tentacles of modernization have touched literally every corner of the planet. Satellites, computers, telephones, television, radio, the Internet and the promise of the "next generations" of technology that will simply shrink this "small world" even further. The conclusions of this trend can only be speculated, however, the trend toward a complete homogenous culture of the future is MORE than a possibility; it is a virtual certainty.

All of this modernizing and globalizing tends to support the idea that the trend will continue to reduce distances and increase the individual's accessibility to global knowledge. Following this theory to a modest conclusion, the world in the far distant future may be quite sick and bored with our particular historical period when May 25th 8113 rolls around and the artifacts contained in this time capsule are seen as mere "originals" of items that have been perhaps replicated millions of times.


jsensei
Posted 18 February 2006 at 12:15 pm

The level of thought that was put into this project was enormous for the time. A case in point: As the article states, plaques inscribed with information about the Crypt were sent out to various other institutions around the world. I believe I read somewhere that these included several ways to find the Crypt including using non-manmade landmarks. In other words, Jacobs and Peters assumed Oglethorpe and possibly Atlanta would be quite changed or not standing at all by 8113.

Also, in my opinion, the door to the Crypt is quite non-descript; something you can walk past a dozen times and not pay any interest in. However, that being said, if you are near the Atlanta area, a visit to the university is worth the trip.


RichVR
Posted 18 February 2006 at 10:33 pm

I noticed that several ashtrays are included in the crypt. These days such a thing would be frowned upon.


3rdreich
Posted 19 February 2006 at 01:11 am

Thats so cool . I just want to go and open it.


Stephen
Posted 20 February 2006 at 03:40 am

AnonymousUser said: "As time and technology move forward, digitizing old documents, images and movies has become hegemony. The next generation of technology promises nothing less than complete preservation of 'the knowledge that has come before.'"

There's an inherent problem with digitized documents' use in the future: how do you view them? The complexity of microfilm compared with a harddrive is like the difference between a horse-drawn carriage and a modern car. Even if we left a full computer in the vault, who's to say that any of the components would still work in 6,000 years?

Case in point: if I gave you an 7 inch floppy disk, would you be able to view any documents on it? It would take some work for even important organizations like universities, governments, or big businesses to be able to view it. This technology was state of the art 25 years ago. Where will DVD's or CD-ROM's be in 25 years? (Not to mention that most writeable CD-ROM's start to degrade after five or 10 years)


indra c
Posted 20 February 2006 at 05:18 am

Stephen wrote: Where will DVD's or CD-ROM's be in 25 years? (Not to mention that most writeable CD-ROM's start to degrade after five or 10 years)"

Maybe we should reconsider the grammophone. It works mechanically, it'll be quite easy to figure out with a minimum of visual instruction and will survive the test of time provided the right materials are used.


simon
Posted 20 February 2006 at 12:14 pm

Stephen's point is an interesting one - a good example is the gold record on Voyager:
http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html

A sufficently advanced alien race would be able to bash together a record player in a few minutes. In the digital age, how would you explain the mechanism of lasers, mirrors, etc of a DVD player, never mind how the 0s and 1s stored on it are translated into moving images and sound?


AKALucifer
Posted 25 February 2006 at 12:24 pm

Jmayhak said: "I don't think cockroaches can survive without oxygen"

It's funny cos it's true.


AKALucifer
Posted 25 February 2006 at 12:31 pm

simon said: "Stephen's point is an interesting one - a good example is the gold record on Voyager:

http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html

A sufficently advanced alien race would be able to bash together a record player in a few minutes. In the digital age, how would you explain the mechanism of lasers, mirrors, etc of a DVD player, never mind how the 0s and 1s stored on it are translated into moving images and sound?"

This is very true I saw a kit in an art gallery where you made a record player out of a needle and a cone of paper. The only problem would be if the aleins thought it was some sort of language then they would spend all their time trying to decipher it. It's not obvious to me that the pictures on that are of a record player.


bryon
Posted 03 March 2006 at 07:37 pm

I think instead of sealing it shut, they should have left it accessable. This way future generations could add to the collection with relevant articles of the time. This would also instill the feeling of "ownership" of the crypt to our successors and in so doing, contribute to it's preservation.


Helmond
Posted 27 June 2006 at 11:17 am

I don't quite agree with the whole: "hey lets use a grammophone, its easier to build". That statement in itself has too many assumptions implied for it to work out. I'm sure that 30 years ago, someone would have said:"Grammophone? An uneven surface line, spiralled onto a disc, that when it agitates a metallic needle of which the agitation needs to be amplified into sounds? Forget about that grammophone, way too complicated. Lets just carve some pictures in a steel plate"

Maybe in 6000 years from now we don't use sound as a communication medium anymore.


timewilltell
Posted 31 July 2006 at 04:00 pm

I find the idea of time capsules absolutely captivating. Wonderful article. Yesterday I blogged about an Internet time capsule called Time Netsule. I think it's interesting that someone has taken the idea into the 21st century but somehow I doubt it will ever truly capture the imagination like something like this!


me09
Posted 25 August 2006 at 06:10 pm

uhhh...good luck keeping the world alive til then...


Dave Group
Posted 09 October 2006 at 05:51 am

Random stoopid thoughts:

1)What, no Little Orphan Annie decoder ring?

2)You forgot to mention that the whole thing is guarded by a giant clunky robot with death-ray beams that shoot from its eyes.

3)Last night, Oglethorpe University was horrified to discover that several drunken frat guys with a sledgehammer . . .


HarleyHetz
Posted 09 October 2006 at 08:00 am

The only thing they forgot is a "viewport" in the door. That way future generations could have "checked up on" the stuff inside. It would also instill that sense of "ownership" mentioned above. Plus, the university could have charged a small admission to "view" the room. Hindsight...


smokefoot
Posted 09 October 2006 at 09:41 am

The discussion on what storage medium to use for the future reminds me of the "Dead Media Project". These people look at media that either can no longer be read or only read with difficulty, resulting in lost information. It covers media both ancient (Inca bead communication) and recent (lots of computer storage that is now unreadable). There is probably a good DI article in it.


SparkyTWP
Posted 09 October 2006 at 10:45 am

I think the best timecapsules that the future will find from our time (Or almost any modern time period for that matter) will be covered landfills. Some of the reasons are:

1. There is no artificial selection of what we considered important. Everything, even the most mundane everyday items, are found in a landfill. The only exception to this is large items like cars or equipment that are usually recycled.

2. Once a landfill is covered, it's unlikely that anyone will want to disturb it since there isn't anything inherently valuable in it. Anthropologists from the future would be the only ones interested in excavating it.

3. There are landfills around the country, and more around the world. You can get a sample of almost any culture at almost any time you want.

4. Since landfills are so large and numerous, there's no chance it will be lost. Even if you lost records of it as a landfill, it's almost certain that eventually someone will try to develop it and find out its true nature.

In fact, I remember seeing on TV (Sorry, I don't remember when/where) that some urban historians were combing new developments that happened to be on top/nearby of old landfills (About 100 years old), and finding things and using that to fill in local history since no one really bothers to record the boring everyday stuff.


tcarta
Posted 09 October 2006 at 06:29 pm

Here's an idea to get around all those obsolete technology issues... how about if someone creates a language based on pictures and then carves what they want to say in stone (metal rusts) - maybe the stones should be put underground in a cave or something to make it hard to find (along with all the cool stuff you want people to find someday) - and then you just pile a whole bunch of stones on top of it all (to protect it) and of course, the pile of stones should be in a really cool shape or something so no one knocks them down? Nah, never mind... too much work.


Jeremy
Posted 09 October 2006 at 09:34 pm

smokefoot said: "The discussion on what storage medium to use for the future reminds me of the "Dead Media Project". These people look at media that either can no longer be read or only read with difficulty, resulting in lost information. It covers media both ancient (Inca bead communication) and recent (lots of computer storage that is now unreadable). There is probably a good DI article in it."

Good point. Even nowadays it'd be pretty difficult to read a box of computer punch cards. Or hell, even a 5.25 inch floppy disk. It'd be a shame if this vault actually did survive thousands of years only for people to have no clue how to actually view microfilm or play a record.


HarleyHetz
Posted 10 October 2006 at 06:35 am

Jeremy said: "Good point. Even nowadays it'd be pretty difficult to read a box of computer punch cards. Or hell, even a 5.25 inch floppy disk. It'd be a shame if this vault actually did survive thousands of years only for people to have no clue how to actually view microfilm or play a record."

The microfilm shouldn't be a problem...hold it up to a light...


Dottie1985
Posted 10 October 2006 at 07:35 pm

Enter your reply text here.


Floj
Posted 11 October 2006 at 03:53 pm

So don't worry, there will me pie in 8113 A.D. I can now rest easy.


Drew Thaler
Posted 11 October 2006 at 09:32 pm

Time capsules — particularly those that aim thousands of years into the future like this one — make the rather large assumption that the world will continue more or less the same as it has up until now. Not very useful if the world reaches a singularity in the meantime.


ponderthis
Posted 13 October 2006 at 05:38 am

Saw today Yahoo launched the "first" Internet time capsule this week but then I came across Time Netsule's Internet time capsule (posted above) which has been out for months! There you go, time capsules are so neat that companies are fighting over the new 'digital' versions!!!


Leighther
Posted 12 November 2006 at 07:43 pm

Maybe we won't be on the same calendar in 6000 years time. How will they know that the correct date has been reached? Will the star constellations in the night sky look different enough to show the date, to the nearest millenia, if they were drawn on the door in their present and projected configurations?

Nah, it'll get robbed.


acesigns39
Posted 25 November 2006 at 10:42 am

This is most amazing . It seems to be us based only. Guess at that time the world was a much smaller place. I wonder if there were other such projects elsewhere in the world ? tratfor http://www.tratfor.com


ardna
Posted 03 February 2007 at 04:31 pm

I think it is a wonderful idea. Even if the objects are not in their proper context they will still be of value to future archaeologists and anthropologist.

But questions remain:
How long will the memory of our current civilization last?
How long will the ability to read the English on the door last?
Will it be opened at the correct time?
Will it be opened by robbers or people interested in preserving the past?
Will the ones opening it be smart enough to figure it all out? (you know all those sci-fi stories where civilization dies and man goes back to the stone age)

Media in time capsules have to be analogue and not digital. We can't expect people (aliens?) in the distant future to be able to read today's machine code. Microfilm and Microfiche are good for images because all they need is a magnifier and a back lite. Gramophones are good for as someone pointed out above that they are simple to make (although it make take a little while for the future scientists to realize it).

A note on exploring landfills: It is true that archaeologists find some of the best stuff in trash pits, but to dig around in today's landfills a thousand years from now will not be pleasant at all. Landfills are putrid and they stay putrid forever because all that organic waste is sealed up in trash bags and has more stuff piled on top of it. The garbage never has a chance to compost, so it all just sits there purifying. No one is ever gonna want to dig around in it to find the inorganic relics of society when they're going to be overwhelmed by the gasses and stench of the partially decayed organic stuff.


Jeffrey93
Posted 17 March 2007 at 06:23 am

Chanticrow said: "Maybe if the longevity treatments posted several weeks ago make good progress then some of our childrens' children could be around to see this opened. "Oh, look. It's a telephone. I haven't seen one of those in centuries!" Talk about nostalgia."

Our children's children? Umm...if I have a kid right now....he'll have a kid about 20 to 40 years from now. Assuming the late breeding....40 years from now will be 2047. That child will live to be, let's say...95 to 100 (better technology and medicine by this point meaning longer average life). That will be 2147. This thing isn't getting opened until 8113. You still have about 6,000 years of offspring to cover.

Time capsules are an okay idea. I'm sure if thousands of years ago they thought of this we'd know a great deal more about the past than we do now, maybe not useful information but information.

Why such a long term? If you create a time capsule that is meant to be opened in 100 years...100 years from now people will get a good grasp on how things were 100 years ago. Then they can pass this information on, along with their own additions for another 100 years.

Sort of like a chain letter. I suppose the problem is that somebody always breaks those. I'm sure this time capsule will never see 8113 either. I still would have picked 250 to 300 years. That is at least remotely possible.

I'm not sure how useful these things are anyway. For example, we find the first ever man-made tool. Aside from saying "Huh...that's neat." is there really any useful information we can gain from this? They're "neat" but not very beneficial to anyone, I don't think.


jawz101
Posted 06 April 2007 at 07:09 am

I'm not sure how useful these things are anyway. For example, we find the first ever man-made tool. Aside from saying "Huh…that's neat." is there really any useful information we can gain from this? They're "neat" but not very beneficial to anyone, I don't think."

I disagree. Haven't you ever watched a show on the Discovery or History channel where they bring up some ancient civilization and start talking about engineering, weaponry, commerce, or legal matters of the time? The ways of doing some things change over time and we do glean a lot of information from simpler times and the innovations that were used at earlier points in history. If anything, simpler innovations become someone's analogy or inspiration for current applications.


armymedic
Posted 08 April 2007 at 10:58 pm

I'm wondering why we're talking about gramophones and microfilm.....wouldn't we look like a very very slow race compared to what technological advances we had actually made at that time? Hopefully there's something in there that explains what advances we had already made and why those simple items were being used. Just a thought.


Atomizer
Posted 30 May 2008 at 01:13 am

What a marvelously optimistic project. Times have already changed, haven't they...

I'm not sure of the future 'value' of it, but I'm guessing they were thinking of duplicating the Pyramid discoveries to some extent. Ambitious and a bit righteous, not unlike sending plaques engraved with our information into space.

The odds of leaving it undisturbed for the next 6,000+ years approaches zero in my opinion. I'd give it another century or two at most before someone blows it open.


Frank G
Posted 27 January 2010 at 02:59 pm

A great idea to tell history via a time capsule, however it is till a certain time period that we can tell about it.
The word " civilization " need to be looked at with some skepticism, the capsule closed in 1940,
all good and well the second world war was just starting and that was not so civil.
Luckily lots of more time capsules are out in the world, so that future generations can keep up with the madness of our way of living, if they like it or not for better or worse.
This is my first comment I make on this great site and I intent it not to be my last, congrats to the designers of this good site on this highway of a lot of crappy sites.
Frank G

P.S. just for the fun of it I have some great links here to explore, if you dig a bit deeper about the content of the crypt you can find some goodies to read here, look at the links and go the the part about the Toast-o-later that was sold for $ 5000.00
http://www.jitterbuzz.com/indtol.html
http://davidszondy.com/future/timecapsule/crypt_of_civilisation.htm


MacAvity
Posted 29 January 2010 at 06:40 pm

".... at which time we direct that it shall be opened by authorities representing the above governmental agencies and the administration of Oglethorpe University."

That's worse than if we found a plaque now saying, "In the year 2010, please have the two Consuls of the Roman Republic and the Chief Librarian of the Library of Alexandria open this." The Library of Alexandria was significantly fewer than six thousand years ago. I think it likely that English will still be understood by a few scholars in 8113, and possible that scholars will be able to hold control of the time capsule and protect it from injudicious looters, but simply impossible that Oglethorpe University or even the United States of America will last so far as the fourth millennium.


Frank G
Posted 29 January 2010 at 10:00 pm

Enter your comment here.


THX
Posted 23 November 2013 at 09:40 pm

Storing the info on microfilm was very progressive at the time. But it's only 2013 and already we've moved past that technology. By the time 8000 is reached, they won't know what to do with film at all - even steel film. Heck, most of today's people wouldn't know what to do with it, we're so digitized.


END OF COMMENTS
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