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This Place is Not a Place of Honor

Article #184 • Written by Alan Bellows

If you look at it just right, the universal radiation warning symbol looks a bit like an angel. The circle in the middle could indicate the head, the lower part might be the body, and the upper two arms of the trefoil could represent the wings. Looking at it another way, one might see it as a wheel, a triangular boomerang, a circular saw blade, or any number of relatively benign objects. Whatever a person's first impression of it may be, someone unfamiliar with the symbol probably wouldn't guess that it means "Danger! These rocks shoot death rays!"

The U.S. Department of Energy has been grappling with that problem recently, as they designed the warning markers to use at Yucca Mountain and at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) nuclear waste storage facilities. There's no telling who might be around to exhume our radioactive sins in future centuries, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates that warnings be erected which will warn away potential intruders for the next 10,000 years, whomever those intruders may be.

The offending nuclear waste will be stored far underground at each of these facilities, but there is still a danger that future generations might stumble across it. WIPP is located in the desert outside Carlsbad, New Mexico, and its storage areas are located 2,150 feet underground. Yucca Mountain's facilities in the Nevada desert are intended to house waste at 1,000 feet deep. Between the two, they are meant to entomb tens of thousands of metric tons of nuclear waste, most of which will remain dangerous for centuries. Each of these locations was selected due to its relative geologic stability, theoretically allowing facilities there to contain the waste for the required 10,000 years.

Ten thousand years ago, early humans were still painting images on the walls of caves. Some of those primitive messages managed to survive ten millennia, and they also remain somewhat meaningful. But of course our ancient cave-painting ancestors weren't attempting to illustrate complex ideas as far as we know.

Before one can communicate with unknown future societies about deadly nuclear waste, it is important to consider with whom precisely one is trying to communicate. Such people may be part of a highly advanced civilization, they may be a society much less advanced than our own, or they may have comparable technology to that which we have today. Further, they may not be directly descended from local cultures. Messages will thus need to communicate to anyone-- regardless of their culture, technology, or political structure-- that intruding upon the repository is not in their best interest.

The essence of the message itself is simple: Warning, dangerous materials are buried below. But how to communicate this to all possible discoverers using an enduring medium? To help answer this question during the preparations for the WIPP facility, panels of experts were assembled comprised of individuals with backgrounds in history, future studies, economics, law, physics, sociology, geography, engineering, political science, risk analysis, agriculture, climatology, history, and demographics. This group was called the Futures Panel, and they were tasked with creatively exploring the possible reasons why a future society might penetrate these deep underground storage facilities. They were also asked to advise on how to universally warn away would-be intruders.

The potential causes of future intrusion were imagined to be: water impoundment, resource exploration/extraction, scientific investigations, archaeological exploration, reopening the facilities for additional storage, waste disposal by injection wells, explosive testing, underground transportation tunnels, and weather modification. With these possibilities under consideration, the Futures Panel proceeded with the assumption that intelligent beings would halt any of these activities if the monuments were successful at conveying their warning. The panel roughly defined the intended message with the following:

This place is a message... and part of a system of messages... pay attention to it!Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor...no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.

What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location... it increases toward a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

The ideas that sprang from the panel were varied and interesting. It was decided that the markers would need to be designed to impart multiple levels of information, ranging from the rudimentary-- something made by humans is here-- to the more complex, such as the exact composition of the waste. This approach, coupled with redundancy, was hoped to allow future discoverers to realize that the site was significant, but also providing detailed information should future society have the means to read the data. They also pointed out that the markers should be made of ordinary materials and absent of beauty, lest the finders see value in removing the markers from the site.

Panelists described culture-independent ideas which are intended to trigger the danger reflex in all of humanity. One example indicated a massive "landscape of thorns," made up of fifty-foot-high concrete spires with sharp points jutting out at all angles. Another intriguing idea was an arrangement of gigantic, black, "forbidding blocks" which are too close together and too hot to provide shelter.

Ultimately, the decision for the WIPP markers was motivated by cost-effectiveness. Current plans call for the area over the waste storage panels to be outlined by "earthen berms," which is another way of saying "large piles of dirt." These berms will be jagged in shape and will radiate out from a central, generally square area. The jagged nature of the berms is meant to convey a sense of foreboding, and the exact size, shape, and configuration of the berms will be such that they will not quickly be eroded or covered. The four corner berms will be higher than the others to provide vantage points to see the area as a whole. Inside the corner berms will also be buried concrete rooms containing highly detailed information, such as maps, the periodic table, and astronomical charts indicating the date that the facility was sealed. This data will be engraved upon stone slabs which are too large to be removed from the rooms' entrances.

Inside of the square arrangement of berms, multiple granite "message kiosks" will be engraved with more basic information describing the site's contents. This text will be provided in all of the official UN languages and Navajo (the local indigenous language). Additionally, space will be left on the kiosks for a future generation to inscribe the message in another language. The granite surfaces will be protected by a concrete "mother" wall, and the messages will be placed up high to prevent them from being defaced or buried by the desert sand.

Lastly, the berms and the area they surround will be peppered with underground "time capsules" at varying depths. These clay, ceramic, glass, and aluminum oxide disks will be inscribed with warning information, and may contain samples of wood to allow a future society to date the
markers using carbon-14 dating.

Yucca Mountain information center concept
Yucca Mountain information center concept

The plans for the Yucca Mountain warning markers are a bit different. Twenty-five foot monuments are intended to be inscribed with text and pictographs warning visitors of the dangers below, as well as a series of nine-inch markers embedded in the earth. Surrounding the area will be several large information-center monuments in the shape of the universal radiation symbol.

Other creative suggestions have been put forward for these warning markers, some of them coming from outside of the official panels. For instance, one individual suggested planting genetically-engineered blue cacti at the site to indicate its importance. Another suggested leaving significant human remains above-ground at the site, to frighten off any who might stumble across it. Still others advised against erecting any warning monuments at all, worrying that the markers themselves-- if not properly interpreted-- may rouse the curiosity of their discoverers enough that they might explore further, to disastrous ends.

In any case, WIPP is not scheduled to be sealed until the year 2038, and Yucca Mountain may be operating well into the 24th century; so humanity still has a little time to contemplate its warning to the future.

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

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.
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134 Comments
clayton
Posted 17 May 2006 at 10:49 am

First! interesting indeed


Shandooga
Posted 17 May 2006 at 10:59 am

First too! (in an alternate universe). Interesting ideas but why don't they just throw the stuff in a volcano?


pebecker
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:09 am

Shandooga said: "First too! (in an alternate universe). Interesting ideas but why don't they just throw the stuff in a volcano?"

Because it would just spew out and contaminate the environment. Molten rock would not destroy the dangerous radioactive elements that are present.


insanegrey
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:39 am

humanity still has a little time to contemplate its warning to the future.

How can we be so sure? If a catastrophe occured tomorrow (giant meteor impact, nuclear armageddon), these sites would be left unmarked and unsealed. It seems to me the sites should have been marked first--before any waste was deposited. Do they really think they can wait until the 24th century before marking Yucca Mountain as a dangerous site?


Mark
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:40 am

I really love thinking about the future like this, it's amazing to think that you can communicate with someone hundreds, if not thousands, of years away from you.


joe schmoe
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:40 am

If they want an effective marker that anyone in the future could understand don't let the egg heads design it! Give a crayon to a bunch of 8 year olds and ask them to make signs of "danger stay away". I am amazed at how complicated things can be made when a simple solution is desired.


sherashi
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:58 am

Reading their little blurb, I noticed one striking thing. They never refer to it as waste. They say it is repulsive and can kill but not how. The reason I find that important is that some lunatic and his followers may find it and interpret the words to mean there is some horrible doomsday machine or other weapon buried there. Maybe I am just thinking too much. But who knows.


lp
Posted 17 May 2006 at 12:34 pm

Why not put layers of fences, cement/steel walls, and razor wire around the site, large steel cross beams (like the Nazis had on beach heads), and signs on the fences and walls in all the UN languages stating something like "Nuclear waste below. Sickness and death could result if uncovered"?


Metryq
Posted 17 May 2006 at 12:46 pm

This reminds me of Lovecraft's "The Shadow Out of Time." That story was not about warning markers, but it did feature an ancient danger buried before Mankind.

Considering the nature of the buried waste, I think the "leave no marker" approach is best, but I also like Joe Schmoe's "8-year-old" solution, too.


Cass
Posted 17 May 2006 at 12:57 pm

lp said: "Why not put layers of fences, cement/steel walls, and razor wire around the site, large steel cross beams (like the Nazis had on beach heads), and signs on the fences and walls in all the UN languages stating something like "Nuclear waste below. Sickness and death could result if uncovered"?"

If you built a fortress out of it, what would prevent future people who didn't understand the language from finding a way in and using it as a fort, or even building a town within the walls? Sinking a well in this area wouldn't be the best for the people. I liked the idea of the huge concrete thorn field, or the black monoliths that would be uncomfortable, but I agree with Metryq that the "leave no marker" approach is best. It seems to me that if anything is left behind, it will only push people towards exploring it. An isolated dump site in a relatively unpleasant area seems like it would work fine. My question is why don't they create something like a 15 foot thick slab of reinforced concrete and bury that 10 feet down so that the area would look normal, but if somebody DID dig for whatever reason they'd hit hard rock and have to give up?


schuylercat
Posted 17 May 2006 at 01:53 pm

What an invitation! I’m thinking Lord Carnarvon, Howard Carter, all that. This facility, carefully made and obviously important enough to our current civilization to make in a massive scale and military-high-and-tight. Put a notice on there (assuming it’s translated BEFORE people show up with shovels, of course) that says “The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited…” The moment anyone with an inquisitive mind sees a message like that it's all over. Same-same for placing seemingly impenetrable walls of concrete. Scientists like to stain stainless steel and break unbreakable combs. Archaeologists like to dig up stuff and try to learn something from it. Hell, I’d want to know!

Hide it, then they find it? Dead dead dead. Warn them about it openly? Dead dead dead. Big concrete spires are a neon sign that says “DIG HERE!!! REALLY COOL STUFF HERE!!!”

And yet…part of me thinks a typical skull/crossbones warning is appropriate in plain English: “Big buttload of toxic waste here.” I mean, are the future discoverers of this place all Einsteins or Forrest Gumps? Either way, oversimplification by saying “there’s a bad thing here that can hurt you a lot so go away” leaves a LOT open for the imagination.


Shandooga
Posted 17 May 2006 at 02:35 pm

pebecker said: "Because it would just spew out and contaminate the environment. Molten rock would not destroy the dangerous radioactive elements that are present."

Granted, but think of the entertainment value! It's gotta be so much fun to watch stuff melt in lava!


Shandooga
Posted 17 May 2006 at 02:37 pm

If they really want people to stay away, they could just label it "Ishtar" or "Battlefield: Earth."


Shandooga
Posted 17 May 2006 at 02:49 pm

lp said: "Why not put layers of fences, cement/steel walls, and razor wire around the site, large steel cross beams (like the Nazis had on beach heads), and signs on the fences and walls in all the UN languages stating something like "Nuclear waste below. Sickness and death could result if uncovered"?"

None of that stuff would work. Any markers built above ground would attract as much attention and curiosity as the pyramids. Just think of what the architects of the pyramids did to keep people out. They used every thing they knew (technologically as well as philosophically, you know, rocks and curses) all of their efforts just made really interesting museums. Of course, radioactive museums of the future are likely to be short-lived (pun intended). Inconspicuous and inaccessible is the best bet, if any of that stuff would actually be necessary that far in the future--which it won't.


another viewpoint
Posted 17 May 2006 at 04:01 pm

This may sound a bit morbid to some of youo, but if the future beings are of less intelligence...what's the loss if they do discover what's buried.

However, according to the article, an assumption was made the future beings would be from an advanced civilization or perhaps MORE intelligent. Then they should be able to comprehend the simple..."8 year old" crayon signs or "skull and cross bones". Either or which should be more than enough. As a bonus, if they are that much more intelligent, maybe they can find a use for the "waste energy".

In which case, why all the fuss? Remember the KISS principle as noted in a previous comment.

And now from the "business perspective"...how many thousands of dollars have been spent or will be spent before someone breaks out that box of Craolas and plastic laminate?


systmh
Posted 17 May 2006 at 04:14 pm

people like dangerous things. we are curious creatures. anyone who's seen indiana jones can tell you that. when i was a little kid, if i saw a forest of concrete spires or a field of strange symmetrical dunes covered with odd dodads and ancient glyphs, i'd be all over it. even if future races did understand the meaning of the warnings, they'd instantly go in and dig it up. if human nature then is anything like it is now, they will arrogantly believe that they are evolved and intelligent enough to deal with the danger left behind by some primitive bunch of people 10,000 years ago. leave it unmarked, or with a solitary radiation symbol above it.

actually, i changed my mind. put a giant monolith in the desert that says "CI4L1S V14GRA L1P1TOR CHEAP DISCREET SHIPPING GET A B!GG3R P3N15!!!"
people will walk right past it and never come back... ever again.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 17 May 2006 at 04:17 pm

I do agree with you all...anytime I see something I'm not supposed to get into, I too have an overwhelming desire to get into it. Every movie or real life event that had one of those "whatever you do, do NOT push the red button" lines tied to it, we all know what happened. Some one always pushes the button.

I think if they dig far enough down and seal every last bit of it with concrete and then cover the concrete up with cave dirt and rocks and maybe even a nice little stream, make the fact that it has been disturbed completely unrecognizable, would be the best way to go. And then outside of the cave plant a bunch of stuff that is highly poisonous to most of humanity but a relatively small population of mammals and nature, and make it completely uninhabitable. There would be no reason to look, no sign at all to peak curiousity, and if you had to hang around, you'd die from the ingestion of vegetation. Assuming the people to follow are relatively similar to humans.

Zen saves the world again.... :)


ballaerina
Posted 17 May 2006 at 05:09 pm

Wow that was fascinating. But after reading the warning, it made me want to explore it further. It's amazing we have THAT much nuclear waste and nothing to do with it except bury it underground and slap a warning label on it.


Jono
Posted 17 May 2006 at 05:47 pm

That's so spooky. Imagine, 10,000 years from now, wandering through the desert and coming across a place like that. I would want to leave that place and never return.


zbeast
Posted 17 May 2006 at 06:00 pm

10,000 years in the future.
Well I'm sure we'll have an atomic war somewhere in that block of time.
Where trying so hard to have one now.
I'm also sure that the humans running around at that moment in time will also be doing what they have always been doing, trying to kill each other.
So I'm very sure that the meaning of the Skull and Crossbones will not be loss to time.
You could always try and add a new book to the bible not that I think it will be around 10,000 years from now and not that I care.
Roentgen 12:13: Oh and low I say do not dig into the earth for the rock found there It will devour the flesh and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.
OK who's to say we'll be smarter than mice in 10,000 years.
Fire is one of those things that people will always encounter and it frigging hurts.
So why not just have lots of pictures of people burning with arms and legs falling off.
I'm sure that will get the point across. The kids always love the pictures. :)


Marius
Posted 17 May 2006 at 06:35 pm

I've always wondered why simply launching the stuff off-planet isn't an option. I know that there is the danger of a rocket full of the glowing green stuff going horribly wrong and blowing up, but couldn't the spent rods be packaged in such a way as to be proof against such catastrophe? It's not like they are machines that have to be protected, just slugs of metal that need to stay sealed. Besides, unmanned US rockets are pretty damned reliable these days. Just send all that crap on a slowly decaying orbit sunward and forget about it.


chenlevy
Posted 17 May 2006 at 07:29 pm

Actually, the black/yellow colors combination is a rather good warning sign. It present in nature as a mark of venomous creatures. So here is a message that is longer lived then any culture. It spans biological times, witch is just about the time scale we are interested in.


Vivendi
Posted 17 May 2006 at 08:23 pm

Marius said: "I've always wondered why simply launching the stuff off-planet isn't an option. I know that there is the danger of a rocket full of the glowing green stuff going horribly wrong and blowing up, but couldn't the spent rods be packaged in such a way as to be proof against such catastrophe? It's not like they are machines that have to be protected, just slugs of metal that need to stay sealed. Besides, unmanned US rockets are pretty damned reliable these days. Just send all that crap on a slowly decaying orbit sunward and forget about it."

Because it costs around $10,000 per pound to get things out of earth's gravity...
Anyways I think spending so much money to think up of ways to tell people that this stuff is radioactive is pretty stupid and a waste of resources... cmon these chemical symbols are "universal" now, yes they might be changed sometime in the future but not likely, and even then I'd say that the symbols might be around in really really old chem textbooks in high schools.


Adam
Posted 17 May 2006 at 09:01 pm

This is high up on my DI scale. I think it's very nobel that the people behind this have the foresight to warn a culture existing thousands of years from now.

I think I like the landscape of thorns idea, but I can just picture stupid college students from the 6013 A.D. having drinking parties there. After that, it's only a matter of time before they try to break into the waste storage area looking for more booze.


NewEvolution
Posted 17 May 2006 at 09:02 pm

Curiosity = dead felines.

No marker whatsoever is best.

Can you think of a single relic of an ancient time that we HAVEN'T tried to dig up?


Nastimann
Posted 17 May 2006 at 09:33 pm

Instead of all the negativity, it is too bad no one can figure out how to spell "enormous energy stored here for anyone who figures out how to tap it more efficiently than we did" accross the ages.


vernondalhart
Posted 17 May 2006 at 09:34 pm

However, no marker isn't really sufficient, when you think about it. There's presumably at these sites a large warren of tunnels going around; if anyone did any geological surveying around the area, presumably they'd pick up this curious network of caves, and then we're back at square one.

Or as to the idea of making a huge concrete cap, burying with dirt. Are you sure that'd stop people from wanting to dig deeper? Ever heard of the money pit?


scottmcl
Posted 17 May 2006 at 09:39 pm

Get those physicists of their lazy asses and get them to great a Rail Gun to launch radioactive material into the sun!

lol


solitas
Posted 17 May 2006 at 09:40 pm

That second image looks like something out of the first "Samurai Jack" episode.


Arcangel
Posted 17 May 2006 at 10:25 pm

I think you would have to post some people to watch over the site in order to protect everyone else. The possibility of leakage will still exist as well. Sixty minutes has done a story with follow up on a similar radiation waste site. Check it out at the link below. Once again DI hits the nail on the head with this topic.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/27/60minutes/main1553896.shtml


Plank
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:09 pm

All of this time and money is being wasted trying to think up ways to keep future generations out, all on the assumption that most of civilisation will be wiped out and the few left will have no record of what is under the ground there. Surely our methods of recording history will not all be indecipherable to people 10,000 years from now. Even 10,000 years ago people drew pictures on walls to record things and some of those drawings have lasted and we seem to understand them.

If said "wipe-out" of civilisation did occur, I say leave the area unmarked. The more something is guarded the more people want to see what's inside.


SparkyTWP
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:31 pm

A written record is not a guarantee that it can be understood, or even found for future generations. Ancient egyptian was written up to less than 3000 years ago, and after it fell in disuse no one could understand or interpret it until the rosetta stone. Imagine what 10,000 years would have done. Even if the language didn't change, there is a lot of information to dig through to find that one bit of knowledge, especially when you're talking about finding it in an extreme scenario such as the collapse and rebuilding of a civilization. Of coarse, this all assumes that libraries will survive intact, which history has shown to be unlikely.

I have to agree that leaving it unmarked (And maybe making a very subtle way to find it for the people who originally buried it, in case they need access to it again) is the best option. Marking it will only attract people. Even if it accurately conveyed danger, it doesn't stop people from trying to find out what the danger is.


Plank
Posted 17 May 2006 at 11:58 pm

Books were not the only method of recording I was referring to. Written word, drawings, photos, videos, sound recordings, art, etc. Surely they would be able to understand one of these mediums of communication.


noface
Posted 18 May 2006 at 12:51 am

Ever heard of thorium?
This is a new nuclear fuel being used in converted facilities around the world and the waste is only toxic for around 500 years.
The kicker is that using thorium you can burn up used plutonium fuel and other radioactive substances, thus ending up with a whole lot of much less radioactive waste. Wouldnt the smart thing be to just use this to disperse of the current batch of ultra radioactive waste and then bury the thorium waste with warnings in a bunch of languages that this is radioactive waste - wait a bit before you open it??
Uh I dont know... why not just do the new zealand thing and stop creating the waste by moving to renewables.


Marius
Posted 18 May 2006 at 02:47 am

Vivendi said: "Because it costs around $10,000 per pound to get things out of earth's gravity…

"

True, but how much is this mountain paradise going to cost?


apology
Posted 18 May 2006 at 02:57 am

An interesting read, but I hardly think that they have covered all the angles. And considering the huge timespan we're considering, I don't think there is any viable way to cover all the possibilities. There's just one valid point. Nuclear waste should not remain on Earth. Full stop. I am thinking that within the coming 30-40 years until the site is to be sealed, space travel will have advanced enough for us to be able to board the waste on a shuttle and fling it into the sun. Surely it will be irrelevant considering the characteristics of our sun and will be a proper safe way to permanently get rid of it.

And in any way, why are we worrying about the stuff that is properly controlled and not the stuff that SURELY has been illegally and carelessly dumped in various places around the globe from the years of nuclear testing.

Besides why not consider the following two more probable theoretical alternatives, because you can bet your ass that whatever future generations find, they WILL dig up, regardless of the warning signs we post around. And i say this because a) future inhabitants will be more advanced than us, thus have a proper way to handle and dispose of these materials, which we couldn't do b) be less advanced, but due to the curious nature still dig up the material, a number of them die off from the exposure and they either not touch the stuff again OR figure out a way to handle it safely. I say let evolution take it's course and forget about the warning sign sillyness.

Besides, on the same lines of thought, we should place warning signs for future generations around all nuclear missle facilities and weapons facilities and military bases around the world with the message "Danger ! War and weapons can and HAVE killed ! Danger! Stay away". Chew on that for a bit.

Also, I agree on the spam sign. Would be more efficient.


Byrden
Posted 18 May 2006 at 03:11 am

All those people who want to dump stuff in the Sun; are you sure that a solar flare wold not spew it out again and the dust would not reach Earth?

As for the warning symbols; I don't think there's any point. Right now we KNOW that volcanoes are dangerous, but millions of people inhabit cities on the slopes of active volcanoes anyway.


Berkana
Posted 18 May 2006 at 03:25 am

What they need are huge mountain side carvings of terribly disfigured people, where the carving clearly shows some sort of energy from the waste causing the burns and mutations. Forget about spikes and other abstract clues: make it plainly obvious. Leave warnings in English. Sure, the folks who live here in the far future might not speak English, but then again, they might have access to linguists who do; I find it hard to believe that all traces and knowledge of English might disappear. We have linguists who speak all sorts of dead languages that were never as prevalent as English is in our world today; surely a warning in English along side frighteningly disturbing wall carvings would warn people off.


Furnace
Posted 18 May 2006 at 04:19 am

The site HAS to be marked. The "monument" warning is just stupid because it only draws attention to the area, and I'm not too thrilled about that message they have so far, but that's a whole paragraph by itself.

The site needs a marker because, advanced or not, if a future civilization settles down in the area, grows and grows, and THEN discovers it, there's a big problem. Can you imagine if the people of Chicago were digging one day and found something similar? "Hey everyone! We have to pick up the whole city and move it somewhere else for the next ten thousand years!" If your thoughts are, "That's the future civilization's problem and not mine.", then you're part of today's problems.

The marker can't be this grand display. Simple markers, like plaques that raise out of the ground only a small amount, are all that's required. Circle the area with these plaques and simply put a human skull image or the skull/crossbone sign. Death is present in every society so regardless of their level of technology, so they WILL associate it with death. The closer you get to the center, the more skulls you represent on the plaque. Pretty obvious if you ask me. This way, the message is stated, but you'll only find it if you're exploring the area or attempting to build on the site.

Next, bury layers of protection that would require significant effort to get at the source. Weak civilizations won't be able to penetrate, but advanced civilizations would probably realize, "Hey. Someone went through a LOT of effort to keep people out of this and there are skull signs everywhere. We'd better be really careful." As you get closer to the source, the more complicated the warning message can be, so after a layer of concrete or two, a detailed message of what's below can be included. Use all the major languages of the planet since some bastardized form of one of them could be in use, and regardless, a civilization that advanced should be able to translate eventually. Look at Sanskrit, afterall.


the last pharaoh
Posted 18 May 2006 at 05:31 am

Fascinating story. However, if another civilization stumbles across this magic mountain, and if none of our species is there to warn them, this would most likely mean that the new earth-dwellers have conquered and exterminated the humankind. So, please, build the gigantic neon sign.


another viewpoint
Posted 18 May 2006 at 05:51 am

Shucks, by golly, gee whiz and oh WOW....I don't know why I didn't use the "out of box" thinking before.

The problem is not trying to figure out how to mark dangerous buried substances so no one in the future digs or opens it up, the problem is really, where is a better place to bury "the stuff"? Answer...there's a big white building in Washington, DC with a dome on the top and another white house located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There's no way anybody is going to dig down through those monuments to see if some glowing treasure is hidden there. Therefore, markings not needed...problem solved!

The KISS principle strikes again!


Crispy
Posted 18 May 2006 at 05:52 am

What's wrong with the standard skull and cross bones insignia? Nothing says "death" like human remains. Add some yellow-and-black spikes if you like. Though I do like the 8-year-olds + crayon idea. :-)

Berkana said: "[...]We have linguists who speak all sorts of dead languages that were never as prevalent as English is in our world today; surely a warning in English along side frighteningly disturbing wall carvings would warn people off."

So tell me, do you speak Neanderthal?

There is no reason to suppose that English will be around in 10,000 years time. It's possible that it might, but imagine how much a purely spoken language can evolve over a 10,000 year period! Sure, some written work may survive, but if there's some cataclysm during that time then there might not be people able to read it.

Still, one would hope that at least one of the languages that they're inscribing in the granite blocks will survive - and speaking of the granite blocks, that's one heck of a Rosetta Stone!

Anyway, great article! Best one in a while, I reckon.


jmcqk6
Posted 18 May 2006 at 06:37 am

Er, why do we have to make this so hard? Unless you are expecting for a massive loss in technology and knowledge, couldn't you simply put up a depiction of the atom / molecule of the radioactive material?


sulkykid
Posted 18 May 2006 at 07:08 am

zbeast said: "10,000 years in the future. ... So I'm very sure that the meaning of the Skull and Crossbones will not be loss to time. ... "

So someone will think that pirate treaure is buried there??? Makes me wonder what's buried it that pit on Oak Island.


SparkyTWP
Posted 18 May 2006 at 07:39 am

jmcqk6 said: "Er, why do we have to make this so hard? Unless you are expecting for a massive loss in technology and knowledge, couldn't you simply put up a depiction of the atom / molecule of the radioactive material?"

That's the thing. You can't assume that the knowledge will stay. We lost incredible amounts of knowledge between the roman empire and the renaissance, and that was in the span of under 1000 years. If the situation were bad enough, the knowledge we've gained could be lost. They could come across the picture and not know what it is because they haven't "rediscovered" the atom, or their model looks completely different from ours.

While things may not get that bad, you have to plan for the worst.


impeach_bush
Posted 18 May 2006 at 08:06 am

Why do we care about future inhabitants of this planet? We'll be dead anyway. And it may happen those creatures from the future could be considered our enemies if they were living in our time. So I say, let them die!


impeach_bush
Posted 18 May 2006 at 08:14 am

apology said: Nuclear waste should not remain on Earth. Full stop. I am thinking that within the coming 30-40 years until the site is to be sealed, space travel will have advanced enough for us to be able to board the waste on a shuttle and fling it into the sun. Surely it will be irrelevant considering the characteristics of our sun and will be a proper safe

So that, in the way to the sun, a random solar wind catches it and bounces it back to earth, creating a neat radiation rain right over our old, bald heads.


Ironclaw
Posted 18 May 2006 at 08:25 am

There would be no reason to look, no sign at all to peak curiousity"

Two words - " Parking Lot"

What is more uninteresting than a patch of flat asphalt with lines painted on it.. in a few years it will crack and genrally look like crap.... maybe put an old run down drive in movie screen at one end.. and a run down house or two - bingo - blighted area.. no one would visit - let alone think of digging...

Hey look how long it took to find Hitlers hidden bunker - even when some historians wanted to go there.. hidden the whole time under a parking lot...

-IC


sierra_club_sux
Posted 18 May 2006 at 09:26 am

What's that one saying? A picture speaks a thousand words? And perhaps a few signs such as DANGER (red letters), NUCLEAR WASTE. The simpler it is, the easier to decipher.


Vivendi
Posted 18 May 2006 at 10:08 am

Marius said: "True, but how much is this mountain paradise going to cost?"

Much less.

Here's a quote of a national geographic article:

What’s to be done with 52,000 tons (47,000 metric tons) of dangerously radioactive spent fuel from commercial and defense nuclear reactors? With 91 million gallons (345 million liters) of high-level waste left over from plutonium processing, scores of tons of plutonium, more than half a million tons of depleted uranium, millions of cubic feet of contaminated tools, metal scraps, clothing, oils, solvents, and other waste? And with some 265 million tons (240 million metric tons) of tailings from milling uranium ore—less than half stabilized—littering landscapes?

And that's only in the US, think of other countries with nuclear weapons and/or nuclear reactors that have similar amounts of waste.

This is something interesting I found:
http://www.gdr.org/nuclear_half.htm

It talks about Nuclear half-life modification technology.


irea6242
Posted 18 May 2006 at 10:18 am

I think they should just write a short, very obvious title like "DANGER! DO NOT COME NEAR" and follow it with a short paragraph that explains in the simplest and plainest terms possible *why* the site is dangerous.

Then translate that into all the official UN languages.
Then in ancient Greek and Latin - why?

Well if we study them now because we're interested in our past *now*, why would we stop in 10,000 years? It'll just be "very ancient history" by the, and if all the UN languages die, maybe those dead ones will "survive".

There's space enough to do it, ways enough to implement it, and if the site is THAT dangerous it shouldn't even be left "alone" to fend for itself; why not have the government check out the texts and update them every 50 years for language accuracy and meaning (if we can remember to unseal "ultratopsecret" documents every 30 or 40 years, we can surely remember to check up on devastating waste repositories...)

Symbols can be skewed and lose meaning over time. They're almost all culture-dependant. I bet they can become era-dependant as well, but language updates itself.


RKim
Posted 18 May 2006 at 10:50 am

How about we just put more money into projects that aim to fling waste like this into the Sun? Assuming that's even possible of course, because I honestly don't have any idea on whether or not it will just form an orbit.

We store the stuff in places like this just until we have the technology to put things in space cheaply and we won't have to deal with leaving a 10,000 year warning that may or may not work.


RKim
Posted 18 May 2006 at 10:53 am

RKim said: "How about we just put more money into projects that aim to fling waste like this into the Sun?

Sorry, didn't notice that this idea was already put forth by Apology up above.


goldenbb
Posted 18 May 2006 at 12:16 pm

So now I guess this site is just ripping off old issues of Popular Science?


Jasonb
Posted 18 May 2006 at 12:58 pm

I think if we mark the site as deadly or dangerous eventually someone will believe the warnings are lies to hide something valuable.

I say we dont mark it.


MrEleganza
Posted 18 May 2006 at 01:21 pm

I agree with the chorus stating the warnings should be simple and minimalist. The more grandiose we make the danger signs, the more likely it is that someone will want to dig it up. As many have said.

The point of emphasis should not be so much on the "danger" part but on the "waste" part. We as humans may be heedlessly fearless but we never seem to have much of an affinity for poop of any kind on a grand scale. We need to make it clear that this is not stuff we are trying to hide, but stuff we are trying to throw away.

It's true we can't assume that people 10,ooo years from now will be able to interpret our languages, but it's similarly a folly to approach this problem like they won't be able to. My money is on that they will. We've made a lot of progress in recording just in that last few decades alone. We improve from century to century, we don't stay static.

Nonetheless, leaving warnings accounting for both scenarios are in order. Something that says, "This stuff is poisonous radioactive waste. We're throwing it away. Our scientists believe it will stay poisonous. " That's it. If they still want to dig it up, at least they know what they are getting, which they wouldn't under any "DANGER NO BAD DON'T!" scenario.

I don't like the idea of leaving it unmarked and rolling the dice. Those scenarios are either too cynical (we'll all get wiped out before then anyway, and if aliens/future generations are left, screw 'em) or too fanciful (maybe we will survive a few more hundreds of thousands of years without anyone ever ever ever ever disturbing that site for any reason if we just leave it boring enough). Give enough time and they will...maybe not out of curiousity but out of any of the other possibilities laid out by the consultants mentioned in the article, and then some.


redflux
Posted 18 May 2006 at 01:46 pm

I say no warning (at least on the surface) ... you'll just pique curiosity! put the warnings underground so that if anyone actually does start to dig ... then they get the warning ... and make it revolting but relatively harmless .. H2S, Selenium or cadavarine gas in glass canisters! Something to make people sick but not kill them, and revolt them so they stay away. If they have the technology to resist the gas ... they should have the technology or the understanding to resist radioactivity.


irea6242
Posted 18 May 2006 at 02:38 pm

redflux said: " If they have the technology to resist the gas … they should have the technology or the understanding to resist radioactivity."

If they have the technology to dig that far, it probably won't be a human doing it but some huge entirely mechanized drill. Unless those canisters are full of acid, poison won't help. And since 10k years isn't enough to develop natural immunity, and I doubt they'll all be walking in anti-rad spacesuits then (unless we end up in a world à la Fallout... then what's one more dump site compared to a burnt crust?)... resistance is futile.


Justin Parks
Posted 18 May 2006 at 03:22 pm

Everyone seems stuck on flinging stuff into the sun, and thereby possibly exploding into dust and covering the earth. Why not just fling it into space? We'd know how to avoid hitting planets in our solar system... beyond that, what're the odds it'd find it's way back here? Not that I'm saying it's financially feasable. Just quit assuming the sun is the only place in the universe to fling stuff.

Also, the skull and crossbones could actually be interpereted as a gravemarker, similar to tombstones nowadays. There's no reason to assume that in 6,000 years people will understand that plaques with skulls / bones are warnings of death as opposed to markers of the dead.

I agree with just digging super deep and burying it, then leaving little to no marker. Yeah, it might suck if future civilizations come across it and dig into it, but are we going to warn them about every potential hazardous place on Earth? "Careful, flaming mountains of death!" "Warning, Chernobyl exploded here!" "Watch out, Bermuda Triangle ahead!"

True, this stuff is caused by man, and therefore there'd be nothing else on Earth (hopefully) to indicate that this area might be more hazzardous than any other normal looking mountain. But trying to warn people with huge monuments designed to scare people away is only going to encourage others who want to learn, like archeologists or big foot hunters. Or possibly even the military.


kwiksand
Posted 18 May 2006 at 07:24 pm

One idea that I don't think has quite been covered here is to maybe put both ideas (leaving no marker, but leaving a warning at the same time) into practice.

What I mean by that is, leave no marker on surface, bury it all far below the Earths surface, and encase it in a concrete tomb with the above warnings/symbols all over the side, as well as in 20-50m intervals toward the surface. That way you're hiding the waste dump into obscurity, so its not visible from the surface. But if its ever discovered there are ample warnings as you get nearer that danger zone.

Imagine that, an archaeologist in 10,000 years time finds a dig site with a capsule 20 metres under the surface with the warning message, only to dig further to find another, to find a more dangerous message..

"WARNING: Nuclear waste buried below (1000m), you are 5% of the way to danger area"

|

|

|

"WARNING: Nuclear waste buried below (950m), you are 10% of the way to danger area"


bgalbreath
Posted 18 May 2006 at 07:51 pm

What I have never understood is why we want to bury high level waste on land. We currently store fuel rods in pools of water at nuke plants. You can stand 15 feet away from high level material safely if the hot stuff is under that many feet of water. So why not glassify the waste and drop it into deep ocean areas. Under 12,000 to 30,000 feet of water, we should be safe even if it eventually leaches out of the glass. Plus, it would be more difficult for future civilizations to get to than if it were buried a few hundred feet down on land. Am I missing something?


SpaceMonkey
Posted 18 May 2006 at 08:24 pm

noface said: "Ever heard of thorium?

This is a new nuclear fuel being used in converted facilities around the world and the waste is only toxic for around 500 years.
The kicker is that using thorium you can burn up used plutonium fuel and other radioactive substances, thus ending up with a whole lot of much less radioactive waste. Wouldnt the smart thing be to just use this to disperse of the current batch of ultra radioactive waste and then bury the thorium waste with warnings in a bunch of languages that this is radioactive waste - wait a bit before you open it??
Uh I dont know… why not just do the new zealand thing and stop creating the waste by moving to renewables."

Ever heard of Thorium????? I live in Gloucester City in New Jersey (just south of Camden and across the river from Philadelphia) and at the present time "THEY" have several residental blocks dug up for the purpose of Thorium mining!!! People have been put out of their homes for several years for this substance. Local jabber has it that this Thorium "cleanup" is a Superfund site buried 50 years ago, but from just looking at it, theyre moving way too much at way too fast of a rate for it just to be a Superfund site. There is more than the fair share of Superfund sites in Camden County, but this one seems to garner special attention. I was just wondering why, but now i know....


apology
Posted 19 May 2006 at 02:18 am

Regarding the solar flare doomsday men, my scenario assumed that we would have the proper technology to do it right. I would not think that if the technology existed to send this stuff into the sun, scientists would just totally overlook the possibility of it being intercepted by solar flares and so on. It is a possibility. Probably financially unfeasible, and a long way from reality, but it is a possibility. I would rather be intersted in a scientific look at it, as in IF it can indeed be safely dumped into the sun.
Flinging it into space would be a pretty bad idea though, ethically.


Xiphias
Posted 19 May 2006 at 06:26 am

Bury it in the desert and slap a pyramid on top of it. If the ancient ones build with nothing more than soft limestone rock and bits of string have lasted three thousand years we should be able to make one that lasts then thousand. Instead of the burial chamber have a room containing the slabs of information.

As far as I know nobody has ever tried to dig up or dig under a pyramid.


orc_jr
Posted 19 May 2006 at 12:16 pm

lots of interesting ideas here. i like the spam concept. if we're going to write a serious warning though, it needs to be made clear that this is not something to use against someone else, it will kill YOU if you mess with it. i don't see how launching millions of tons of radioactive waste into our sun could EVER be a good idea. i realize i'm echoing justin sparks here but even empty space would be a better alternative. aim at a right angle to the plane of our revolution and good riddance. maybe we could just build something really interesting in the vicinity yet far enough to draw attention away from the waste? give those future anthropologists a puzzle that will keep them distracted for a good long time. failing that, we could always resort to killer robots. they'll guard anything you tell 'em to.


FootFace
Posted 19 May 2006 at 01:31 pm

"Sure, the folks who live here in the far future might not speak English, but then again, they might have access to linguists who do; I find it hard to believe that all traces and knowledge of English might disappear. We have linguists who speak all sorts of dead languages that were never as prevalent as English is in our world today; surely a warning in English along side frighteningly disturbing wall carvings would warn people off."

Have you seen any words in Proto-Indo-European? That's from circa 5,000 years ago. It's the hypothetical language that most of the languages of Europe and many of the languages of India came from. Or how about Old English? (From a scant, say, 1,000 years ago.) Look at it now and it just looks like gibberish:

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum Father our thou that art in heavens
Si þin nama gehalgod be thy name hallowed
to becume þin rice come thy kingdom
gewurþe ðin willa be-done thy will
on eorðan swa swa on heofonum. on Earth as it is in heaven.

Imagine ANOTHER 9,000 YEARS of change and divergence. In 10,000 years there's just no way people will be speaking English in any form recognizable to what we speak now.


joe schmoe
Posted 19 May 2006 at 01:55 pm

systmh said: actually, i changed my mind. put a giant monolith in the desert that says "CI4L1S V14GRA L1P1TOR CHEAP DISCREET SHIPPING GET A B!GG3R P3N15!!!" people will walk right past it and never come back… ever again."

This is my vote for the funnest post this year, great ending.LOL


bogdroid
Posted 19 May 2006 at 10:09 pm

The idea of burying lots of little time capsules is nice. Maybe each one could include, as well a a piece of carbon-date-able wood, a simple, fool-proof Geiger counter. It must be possible to build a little Geiger counter that would last several thousand years. It might also help to bury little sealed caches of uranium so that radiation in the area is easily detectable without actually being lethal at the surface.


apsynt
Posted 20 May 2006 at 12:31 am

1000 feet of dirt is not childs play to dig through, if any culture , earth based or otherwise should feel inclined to dig so deep, and be capable of doing so, surely they will have learned of radiation and its detection long before. Hell, even we, retarded apes, have gotten our heads around it.
Burial site idea sounds good too, anyone who goes purpusefuly to poke around someones grave deserves an unhealthy dose of radiation


JustAnotherName
Posted 20 May 2006 at 06:12 am

Lots of comments so I did not read all. I know there has just been a discovery of rocks set up. The theory is they would track the sun and seasons. :::sigh::: Couldn't it be someone was expressing "Modern Art" for their time period.

And maybe THEY were leaving a marker "Do Not Come Even Close To This Spot." And of course, there is always the probable use of worship for this Ancient Civilization.

Maybe it was the backyard of a crazy person. We have them today. You know, people who go around just picking up Medal or Hub Caps and arranging them as they see fit.

Anyway, "If you mark it, they will come."


Jack Starr
Posted 20 May 2006 at 01:29 pm

What if this is exactly what the people who built Stonehenge was trying to say? "DO NOT DIG HERE!"


Random5
Posted 22 May 2006 at 03:30 am

Shooting it into the sun, if economically feasible is a good solution, because once you get it there, the sun performs fusion on it and changes it into something completely different, and also while I don't have an in depth knowledge of how powerful solar flares are, are they powerful enough to change the direction of a spaceship full of very dense materials compared to all that gravity of the sun (which is absolutely huge at that distance).


Random5
Posted 22 May 2006 at 03:32 am

Also I think the best warning would be pictorial. Emboss into titanium a picture of a person walking along, then next panel (like a comic strip), person walking up to Radiation symbol, then third panel, and fourth panel, guy dying. Have this scattered around the site, then the radiation symbol in the middle.


simon
Posted 22 May 2006 at 08:15 am

Random5, the problem with a cartoon is: which way do you read it? If in 10,000 years the discoverer's language is written right to left, they might think the 'thing' these ancients were guarding so actively was a method of raising the dead back to life!

As an aside, I can understand why pictograms are so difficult. Skulls mean death to us western societies, but didn't the aztecs use the skull image as a talisman, ie skull=protection?

Something needs to be said, but what to say is harder. I think the best bet would be to provide as many visual cues as possible (yellow and black, etc) but the rossetta stone idea is the strongest. I also agree that the message should actually be quite long (to give linguists enough material to work with) and written in every language known to man, living and dead- assuming the Pyramids continue to stand 10,000 years from now, English may have been forgotton but hieroglyphs might still be readable!


Filoviridae
Posted 22 May 2006 at 08:22 am

They could come across the picture and not know what it is because they haven't "rediscovered" the atom, or their model looks completely different from ours.

While things may not get that bad, you have to plan for the worst."

Additionally some sciences aren't the most stable fields. And as much as scientists and their fans would like to believe they are absolutely correct about their beliefs, we may find that even what is understood as basic truths are challenged or even proven wrong in the future. The knowledge of today, which will be ancient by then, may just be foolish to the future generations.


Cass
Posted 22 May 2006 at 10:17 am

Vivendi said: "Because it costs around $10,000 per pound to get things out of earth's gravity…"

That's why we need to get our butts in gear and build that damn space elevator!


Chilehead
Posted 22 May 2006 at 04:10 pm

there couldn't be any realistic danger from the waste being sent into the Sun, as all the material would be vaporized by the time it reached the surface (5000+ deg C) since the Corona of the sun has temperatures that reach 1,000,000 deg C. There wouldn't be anything as large as "dust" left, and the heavier elements would probably have enough mass to resist the solar wind (charged particles that stream out from the sun) and be drawn into the sun. Any particles that do get reversed on their course and send outward would be projected in a cone shape (like a shotgun discharge), with the point of the cone lying where the material was vaporized. Even if that cone had only a 1/2 of a degree angle of spread, what would the area of the circular field be when it reached the distance of the Earth - 98,000,000 miles away? And the odds are very small that the Earth would be on that particular side of the Sun when the particles passed by, assuming that the particles came in contact with the sun on the plane of the sun's equator (where all the planets orbit) as opposed to lobbing this trash barge at the north or south pole of the sun like an artillery shell, where any particles that escape would be shot out on a trajectory that would not come in contact with any of the planets or other members of the solar system.

Don't think that anything mankind can contribute would even be visible on the scale of the output from the sun... the thing is a giant fusion reactor, and the volume of material that is undergoing fusion and putting out radiation is far larger than the Earth itself. Have you ever had a sunburn? That is a form of radiation burns from what the Sun is putting out. We are shielded from most of the damage by two things: 1) our atmosphere, including the ozone layer and 2) distance - a common concept in astronomy is the inverse square law - the output from a star (light, x-rays, charged particles, planetary nebula, supernova ejecta) grows thinner according to the formula x=1/(distance from the star)^2 .

The Sun is what we call large. If you were to take everything in the solar system (planets, asteroids, meteors, Oort cloud, moons, comets, etc.) and add it all up, it would not be even one ten thousandth the mass of the sun.

Launching our waste by any conventional means, though, would be impractical and dangerous in the extreme. Aside from the amount of roughly 700,000,000,000 pounds, at a cost of $10,000 per pound right now, that would exceed the entire GDP of the united states for several years. Any self-propelled craft carries the danger of a catastrophic malfunction, and even if the odds are less than 1 in 10,000 of such an event, the consequences of a ton of nuclear waste falling to earth as a cloud of debris makes it far too dangerous. At a ton of payload per launch, that still would add up to over 350,000 launches, so the odds would indicate about 35 such failures, give or take.

A space elevator, while it would be a safer means of transport, would still be vulnerable to someone trying to plant explosives in the cargo or the elevator car. While blowing up a few dozen people would be a tragedy, if you blew up a shipment of nuclear waste suspended a few miles above New Mexico or Nevada that would be a "dirty bomb" of a whole new category.

With a maglev rail-type launch system (for reference, read 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein), it may become practical and even have a large enough safety margin to make it physically possible, but what would be the engergy cost to launch it?

My pictogram suggestion would be like this:
( [ { * } ] )

where ( and ) are diagrams of a person, [ and ] are diagrams of someone vomiting (I know, gross, but could you miss the point?) { and } would be diagrams of people missing limbs and/or broken in half, and * would be a diagram of the outer walls of the facility with a barrel or something in the middle that is shown as glowing (child's picture of the sun type - rays emanating from it, or the like. [, ], { and } would be shown glowing in increasing amounts closer to *.)

then include a rosetta stone-type object, followed by descriptions of what is there in several languages.


KeaponLaffin
Posted 23 May 2006 at 05:39 pm

Put a warning sign like the ones for underground telephone lines
'Call the 21st century before digging here'

Seriously tho, like the picture idea. Huge stone blocks with really nasty chiseled pictures of the torments of Hell or somethin similar. Scare away the primitives, and a more advanced culture would see that it's not actually a weird lookin Sun burning people to death, but a Plutonium atom


Kafka
Posted 23 May 2006 at 10:40 pm

A nasty picture could do the job, if people revert back to being primitive. However, the best solution would be to make it as completely invisible as possible, like what JasonB said. They won't investigate something they can't see. Bury it way, way underground, so that only people who are reasonably advanced could access it.
Failing at that, we should make it damn near indestructible and unopenable (not sure that's a word), so that any primitive human beings who don't know what is in there can't access it.

Or maybe we will leave a bit of contamination on the surface of the container. This would give a warning to any one advanced enough to detect radiation and cause sickness to people who get close to it, so no one will touch it again, much less try to open it. Give them a taste of what's inside, and they'll stay the hell away from it.


alan heckman
Posted 24 May 2006 at 05:50 am

A lot of people have proposed awful pictures, but I don't think we realize how open to misinterpretation these really are. Remember, one of the world's largest religions has adopted as its main symbol the image of a man being brutally tortured. There is nothing I can think of that is so nasty that it would prevent future archeologists from wondering "But what did it mean to the people who made it?"

My out-of-the box solution: instead of trying just to preserve this message for 10,000 years, we should try to preserve the whole civilization and lingustic context nessesary to understand exactly what is there in there and what the consequences are of digging it out. Ok sure, it might be (a lot) more expensive then launching the stuff into space, but imagine the advantages of some kind of indistructable library documenting everything we can about everything and including a system for teaching people how to use it... including teaching them to read. The idea being that no matter what happens, a post-apocolyptic civilization that finds our ultimate time capsule ought to be able to reach our level of technological sophisification within a few generations. Superior future generations will value it as a historical archive...then we just post very durable signs at the site that say "don't dig here" and explain why, in plain english.


JustAnotherName
Posted 24 May 2006 at 06:49 am

They might as well go the Rosetta Stone Way. More languages; current and ancient. Maybe 7. Then, once it is covered by centuries/mellenium of floods, volcanos, earthquakes, ect., they find it in a dig. Once they break the code, they will know they are going to die. : )


Bean Machine
Posted 26 May 2006 at 10:14 am

Just build a huge temple on it chock-full of fiendishly cruel and lethal traps, decorate the walls with arcane & occult warnings and cap the the final seal with a solid gold 'Ark of the Covenant' . Perhaps wire it up with an explosive charge too.

That, as they say, will learn 'em!


sgt.sugardaddy
Posted 27 May 2006 at 11:11 pm

An easy solution, is to create huge drawings on the mountain over the waste. If its anything like the ones in africa, we will look, wonder, pick up a lil bit off the surface, and then leave it for future people to decipher it. If the people that find it are advanced, aliens, and cruel enough to destroy the drawings instead of study them, then let their asses fry


Jasontheperson
Posted 06 June 2006 at 04:34 pm

This reminds me of the Long Now Foundation, which faces a similar problem of coming up with a clock that will run for 10,ooo years.

It also reminds me of http://www.infiltration.org/ a magizine dedicated to entering restricted areas.

About that theory that our language will be lost, I don't think it will be. I think our technology has advanced to the point where most if not all of our current information will be available to future generations through electronic medium.


pizza
Posted 17 June 2006 at 08:02 pm

I've written a response to the WIPP recommendations at http://parseerror.com/#10,000_years
My conclusions are as follows:

1. If a site is constructed then human nature will compel those who find it to explore it.
2. In all likelihood, the languages used to explain the purpose of the site will be dead or mutated beyond recognition by the time the site is excavated; and even if they aren't, that will not keep people from exploring it.
3. Therefore, in order to keep the site from being excavated, it must be hidden as thoroughly as possible, with no above-ground structure and minimal below-ground structure.


ihope
Posted 27 June 2006 at 01:22 pm

My idea: build the "information center", but far away from the actual waste site. And don't say where it is; say something like "at X feet below sea level, you will encounter innocent-looking-but-undiggable rock type A, and at Y feet below sea level, you will find a warning, and at Z feet below sea level, there's the waste itself." If sea level and feet won't work as an absolute reference, maybe something else could be used, like "the distance light travels in 3.86069555*10^-12 seconds".


951
Posted 16 July 2006 at 04:15 am

Express using pure maths the nature of the waste contained, as part of the complex messages. Encode it with both normal (algebraic) and binary (and any complex language-based methods), and detail the half-lives of the elements buried.

I also like the idea of representing the atomic structure of the waste as part of the graphic elements on any of the monuments, to give a link to both an advanced or a primitive culture.


Stead311
Posted 07 August 2006 at 10:12 am

If you carve into the stone:

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=160

I am only pretty sure they are going to get the clue. If they aren't technologically advanced enough to have the internet, then it pretty much goes without saying that life wouldnt be as fun and they should die. So, all the more reason to keep this server up and running! Right guys? ...guys?...alan?


GWabel
Posted 28 August 2006 at 08:32 pm

I sent this article to an old physics professor of mine, and he responded with this equally interesting argument:

http://muller.lbl.gov/TRessays/26-Witch-of-Yucca-Mountain.htm


gypse
Posted 22 October 2006 at 09:17 pm

as in the words of my generation WE BE FUKED!

shame theres not a way to turn all that nuke waste in to say reuseable fuel for say space explortions from my understanding and all that i have read (i might be completly wrong here) even after say a fuel rod or a bi product waste still has engery or life left in it more then the engerizer battery ha ha but wile we'r stock pileing all this glow in the dark stuff some one (other then me) should come up with ways to turn haz-mat waste of today in to futur fuel of tomarrow i know ill never see it in my life time but maybe with a little hope and faith for futur generations to come exploreing the unknown may be our true last chance to remain as the human race!!! just a thought any way... any one from nasa reading this i have endless pages of notes and doodles of space ship motor configs and designs .and full of ideas yet to come arcangelknight@aol.com


CptPicard
Posted 31 December 2006 at 04:46 pm

Chilehead said: "there couldn't be any realistic danger from the waste being sent into the Sun, as all the material would be vaporized by the time it reached the surface (5000+ deg C) since the Corona of the sun has temperatures that reach 1,000,000 deg C. There wouldn't be anything as large as "dust" left, and the heavier elements would probably have enough mass to resist the solar wind (charged particles that stream out from the sun) and be drawn into the sun."

While you're of course way more correct than most here, I must nitpick the point that the corona is also of such low density that despite its particles being of extremely high temperature, they probably wouldn't be able to transfer much energy to anything you're sending to the sun.

Indeed, compared to the scale of the sun and solar flares, anything we'll ever be able to send over there is going to be so insignificant that it doesn't matter one bit.


Random5 said: Shooting it into the sun, if economically feasible is a good solution, because once you get it there, the sun performs fusion on it and changes it into something completely different..

Nope, it won't in this case. Nuclear waste such as plutonium consists of very heavy atoms, which aren't part of the normal fusion reactions in stars...


AP
Posted 15 March 2007 at 11:55 am

Make it a graveyard so it will remain undisturbed. Don't allow anyone to be buried with any objects that could be plundered. Mark each grave with a warning in many written different languages. As languages change each warning will become updated. If society doesn't collapse the real purpose of the site will be remembered.

If society collapses, people who discover the area will see it as a graveyard of the dead, hopefully a place to be avoided at all costs. to further protect the site, I also like the idea of making the entrance of the site hidden and hard to find. Leave some of the material exposed at the entrance of the site, just past the last warning signs and symbols and perhaps even in the graves of the people buried there. This will keep anyone who doesn't head warning messages will become sick and die. The location would be known as a place of death, an accursed place and left alone.


Jeffrey93
Posted 16 March 2007 at 10:15 am

Everything in this article made zero sense to me. Every idea they came up with would spawn intrigue, even in people today.

Think, if we discovered items like this with some ancient language that we can't decipher, what would we do? We would investigate further. Shortly thereafter dozens, if not hundreds, of some of our highest intellects would be suffering from severe exposure to radiation and would eventually die.

A basic variety of symbols, even re-using some of those cave symbols, at the entrance would suffice.


yu
Posted 21 March 2007 at 02:41 am

hey, maybe our nuclear waste will be the new "oil" and fossil fuel for the tomorrow people? Imagine countries invading the ancient land of america to secure their political interests.


Figs
Posted 23 April 2007 at 02:53 am

Why don't we take the poop suggestion and make a big carving of some animal taking a crap and put an arrow pointing down? Pretend it's some kind of ancient place of poo. Although, we do get some very strange types who would probably WANT to look through the excrement of some ancient animal...


Old Man
Posted 24 April 2007 at 02:07 am

Make it so impregnable that only nuclear power or something more advanced could possibly excavate it. Then you can be sure that the civilisation understands nuclear power.


raoul
Posted 11 July 2007 at 09:32 am

Some etched photographs of Hiroshima survivors might give one pause.


Brain_In_A_Jar
Posted 06 August 2007 at 02:33 pm

For the future technological society that nevertheless has forgotten our then-to-be ancient languages, why not put pictures of what radioactivity actually looks like in experiments on the site? Cloud chamber tracks, for example, images of the nuclei of radioactive elements depicting their numbers of protons and neutrons, or pictograms of nuclei undergoing fission - they stand just as good a chance of being recognisable to anyone who knows about radioactivity and its properties in the future as they do today.

At the risk of being controversial, the real danger of radioactive material is its delayed action and apparent inertness under most non-specialised examination, allowing it to be entirely innocently spread far and wide before people start dropping like flies. Why not, therefore, store immediately toxic, lethal materials in the same place as the radioactive matter, to increase the likelihood of its being immediately tagged as a dangerous place to be by any societies around it? It may seem unethical, but as the lesser of two evils (when you have to bury the waste either way) it's a clear winner - on the one hand, nosy explorers could spread radioactive matter for miles and cause devastation to the surrounding population for generations to come, on the other hand anyone poking around and opening containers they shouldn't, for example, will immediately be affected and the population will rapidly become wary of the area.


Alx_xlA
Posted 02 October 2007 at 05:04 pm

Brain_In_A_Jar said: "At the risk of being controversial, the real danger of radioactive material is its delayed action and apparent inertness under most non-specialised examination, allowing it to be entirely innocently spread far and wide before people start dropping like flies. Why not, therefore, store immediately toxic, lethal materials in the same place as the radioactive matter, to increase the likelihood of its being immediately tagged as a dangerous place to be by any societies around it? It may seem unethical, but as the lesser of two evils (when you have to bury the waste either way) it's a clear winner - on the one hand, nosy explorers could spread radioactive matter for miles and cause devastation to the surrounding population for generations to come, on the other hand anyone poking around and opening containers they shouldn't, for example, will immediately be affected and the population will rapidly become wary of the area."

I like that idea. Also, they could paint the area in a 500m radius solid black, so it would get hot and act as a detererent. Also, when they seal the hole, they should use harder and harder materials as they go in, and leave warnings that get more complex the farther you go, i.e.

Packed dirt and rocks ==>> Human remains
Concrete ==>> Images of disfigured and dying people
Steel wall ==>> Multilingual warnings
Titanium shield ==>> Images of the atoms, details on radiation and schematic of facility
Carbon fiber (?) wall ==>> End of tunnel, protective equipment provided


BetterLateThanNever
Posted 17 October 2007 at 05:26 pm

Agree, nothing on the surface. It would just be a challenge. But we're burying radioactive waste 1000 feet down. That's a lot of spade work so I think its safe to say we're talking about a society roughly as advanced as we are. And presumably these people would have a passing familiarity with radiation. So why not take a cue from our Egyptian pyramid designers who would make a room difficult, but not 'impossible' to discover and load it with goodies, and then put the REAL stuff a few feet beyond? I thinking bury some medical-grade radioactive waste a few hundred feet down: deep enough to avoid accidental discovery. A few hundred feet further something a bit more radioactive, and so on. The idea being that someone who does pull out the old pick and shovel comes to the first 'treasure' and its not much. But presumably they have the technology to ID it as once radioactive. The deeper the dig, the stronger the radiation and the more dangerous. Presumably they'd be sane enough to either A) say 'wow, this stuff keeps getting stronger and stronger. Better stop before I have kids with two heads or B) take the proper precautions if they want to find out HOW strong it gets.

Or just bury a bunch of beads and other pretty junk 500 feet down. It worked before.... Or maybe a bunch of wrecked cars or airplane carcases from the desert. Put in a big tomb stone and let THEM spend the NEXT 10,000 years trying to figure out why we burried a bunch of Neons and DC-3s.

Of course this, and many other things like this, are based on the premise that it will be lost or forgotten and people 10k years from now will have the same problems we have with Easter Island. I find that unlikely. Information is too widely distributed to be accidently destroyed and its not like the govt. is planning on burying it and then leaving. Some things are so important they get passed on from govt. to govt and culture to culture. I'd like to think this would be one of them.


Lawn
Posted 06 November 2007 at 09:16 pm

Just wanted to say that this article hooked me on the site; would never have heard of you guys if my friend hadn't shown me this....and it's so fascinating! (go figure)


sd9sd
Posted 22 November 2007 at 08:48 am

Guys, we live in a very different world from the animals around us. We see things around us as they are, but animals and insects have different sensory systems. The "world" would be a very different place for an earthworm. There is no gurantee that if humans get wiped out, the next set of organisms that occupy the earth would have the same sensory equipment as we do. Maybe they won't have colour vision.....maybe they won't interpret concrete thorns as danger coz their bodies would be made of some super hard substance (we're a lot different from dinosaurs).....maybe they won't be able to comprehend language...they might communicate thru some telepathic signals....
But whatever the case, if they have a sufficient population, they will be able to tell that the radioactive area is a dangerous area because some of their own will die on contact with the waste. Then they'd stay away from there......unless they're immune to radioactive waste of course :) (its quite amazing how cockroaches develop tolerance to all the pesticides we invent for it)
Its pointless (although damn interesting) to contemplate the future. Just dig a hole and dump the waste so that it won't be of harm to humans. The next civilization of organisms can take care of themselves. We'd have obviously successfully avoided any dangerous substances that the dinosaurs would have buried in the ground ;) Life has the habit of bouncing back. That's life :)


Panda Bear
Posted 04 June 2008 at 09:13 am

Navajo? Isn't that what we use when we don't want anyone to decipher our meanings?


Mirage_GSM
Posted 24 June 2008 at 02:23 am

insanegrey said: "How can we be so sure? If a catastrophe occured tomorrow (giant meteor impact, nuclear armageddon), these sites would be left unmarked and unsealed. It seems to me the sites should have been marked first–before any waste was deposited. Do they really think they can wait until the 24th century before marking Yucca Mountain as a dangerous site?"

Well, if such a thing should happen, a little stray radiation is probably going to be the least of our problems ;-)
Apology: Flinging it into space would be a pretty bad idea though, ethically.

Why? By the time it reached anyone it would be completely harmless.
Sd9sd: Guys, we live in a very different world from the animals around us. We see things around us as they are, but animals and insects have different sensory systems. The "world" would be a very different place for an earthworm. There is no gurantee that if humans get wiped out, the next set of organisms that occupy the earth would have the same sensory equipment as we do.

Dito for the workings of evolution ;-)
The Link in post #89 is excellent - puts all this into a reasonable perspective.
No matter how culturally advanced a future society might be - if they are interested in archaeology and have the technology to get in there, they will also have the ability do decipher our messages.


veekie
Posted 02 August 2008 at 06:10 am

A rather callous, if effective method to do the warning would be to combine the warning messages with a sealed container of radioactive and toxic material, as a 'sample' of the contents. An advanced society that discovers it will know the exact danger from examining the sample as well as interpreting the message, and handle it(and the complex) appropriately, while a primitive society that forces their way through regardless would experience first hand, how deadly the contents are and hence, back off.

Whatever is released from the sample container would be an insignificant quantity compared to what would be released by breaching the main complex itself.


Bob Nesbo
Posted 17 August 2008 at 12:22 pm

It's something how when committees get together, an expensive and complicated way to do something will occur.

If the "future" maintains a steady lineage of knowledge, keeping the stuff buried deep enough with the "classic" radioactive signs ought to be enough. If society as we know it is wiped out, and things return to the way they were during the bronze age, humans won't have the technology to get to the stuff. I guess someone could argue the premise that there could be a resurgence of technology. That is, society gets wiped out, cave men regroup, and years go by and there is another dawn of an "Industrial Revolution" ala the 1880's. People with steam shovels big enough to dig deep, but not smart enough to understand what the radioacive signs mean.

Hmm, maybe we should put more effort making ourselves aware to the danger of nuclear war (or whatever the mass cataclysm will be) than to warn future, unwitting societies.


Jospec5Star
Posted 01 January 2009 at 04:55 pm

I am thinking that human remains is a good idea however I believe this would only be an effective warning system on a grand scale. Make a huge concrete (or some other long lasting material) skeleton and embed the universal radioactive symbol somewhere on or near the skeleton. Regardless of the warning I think it should absolutely be universal throughout the country/world. Why make several different forms of the same warning?


Locifer
Posted 09 March 2009 at 04:33 pm

Hmmm,seems to me if anyone would reopen this dumps they would fall ill and die,if that isnt a good enough warning i dont know what is.After a few deaths i think they would get the picture and reseal it,if not...they are to stupid to live anyway.


mossberg8
Posted 10 March 2009 at 08:53 pm

I wonder what's under stonehenge.


wayno@oz
Posted 19 March 2009 at 12:19 am

If future humans become dumb enough to lose all ability to interpret these signs ( i suspect this may be possible) woud'nt the loss of life be benificial to the remaining (possibly smarter) population? Putting some chlorine (i.e. nuclear waste) in the gene pool so to speak!


DamnAwesome
Posted 21 December 2009 at 01:56 am

why dont we just take the pyrimid idea build it like a pryrimid and then put traps in then put a fake treasure at the end so they think OMG we found the treasure


Robin Lionheart
Posted 07 February 2011 at 11:02 am

If you find this fascinating, you may also enjoy the documentary Into Eternity, about the design challenges of building the Finnish nuclear waste repository called Onkalo, which has to hold nuclear waste for 100,000 years.


Serris
Posted 18 February 2011 at 07:27 pm

Am I the only one who thinks this is like what the Chozo did with all the Phazon in Metroid Prime?


Suchros
Posted 22 May 2011 at 04:30 pm

I think I've read enough stuff to have some kind of educated opinion. Also, I read this article (not too good, sorry) and all comments (yuch), so pickings:

#77 has the Sun-launching idea mostly correct (lots of misinformation elsewhere just stung my eye so... Although there is bit more stuff in solar system than he said, the Sun is still BIG)
-if tl;dr: too dangerous, too expensive to send to the Sun

However he thinks pictographs/language would be understood-not probable:
#66 has nice example
-pictographs/language would NOT be understood/would NOT repel from digging, has not happened so far and will not happen (every "cursed" tomb has been opened). Nobody knows even one neanderthal language now.

#89 has nice link (Physics professor), although a little too positive probability calculations in my opinion. Then again, some countries have different stuff (see 112) to dump.

#106 has digging-problems (loved steam-shovel), but really primitive civilizations did dig really deep

#112 very nice horror(reality)-film, I strongly recommend, great mood etc... Best film in any category I've seen in years. And it also states stuff not noted in many places. Watch it !

I loved the idea to put some nerve gas or something else fast-acting toxic (if it keeps that long) just to kill first few before they get to the "slowly killing" stuff.
I wonder why many seem to think there will be another civilization if we don't make it "to stars". Lake-iron has been used, oil has been used for a long time to come, most ores near surface have been used (and no digging without easily-findable ore) etc... Also, see dark ages and watch out-this time we don't have another country to help us if we fall on our knees.

Sorry, I don't dump any sources; too long already.


White Hawk
Posted 27 July 2011 at 03:51 am

First time poster - and I absolutely love this topic!

I have to agree with the suggestion that skull'n'bones symbols are pretty universal... unless humanity has been completely wiped out in a few thousand years, and whatever has evolved/arrived to poke around the site bears no resemblance to use whatsoever - advanced arthropods, perhaps, in/from a mammal-less world, who may be unaware that creatures were once around whose hard bits were on the inside..?

Build the facility to be as hardened as possible, of course, and provide a paragraph (as suggested) in various languages explaining what lies beneath. If the society that finds it is not very advanced, then perhaps they will take heed of the skulls and save themselves the arduous task of breaking the seals. On the other hand, if the society that finds one of these sites is advanced, it may take them long enough to break the seals that they may complete their translations in time to understand the dangers before they begin.

As well as natural languages and basic symbols, I imagine it would be worthwhile including various symbols and diagrams depicting the nature of the materials interred. If the society that finds a site is sufficiently advanced enough to pose a risk to the seals, they should also be scientifically adept enough to translate, for instance, a diagram of an atom (with appropriate details of nucleus, neutron/proton count, and electron orbits).

Then again, that last suggestion is predicated on the presumption that a future society comes to the same basic conclusions regarding the nature of matter prior to digging up the site, and that our own interpretation/representation of an atom's structure bears appropriate similarities to theirs.

I expect a little scientific symbology, basic numerical representations, and a number of skulls would be enough to convey the danger.

On the other hand, as I think has been mentioned, it only takes a handful of grave robbers with explosives to knock holes in a few walls without paying heed to the signs, and I'm sure that the properties of explosives can be utilised long before the underlying chemistry is understood- we were messing around with things that go bang long before we dismissed the ridiculous notion that lead could be turned into gold via chemical transmutation, so it stands to reason that future visitors may have the means to explore without the knowledge to understand.

I like the idea of throwing the waste into the sun, like some humongous disposal furnace... the only issue just happens to be the impracticality of getting millions of tons of radioactive waste off the ground in the first place - the energy requirements are unthinkable! By the time we've figured out a way of doing it practically, we're going to be up to our knees in waste, so we're still going to have to bury the stuff in the mean time, with appropriate warnings just in case we manage to blow ourselves up before we start shipping this stuff out.

I expect that anything thrown into the sun though, especially the heavier substances we really want rid of, could be dismissed from our thoughts forever. In the unlikely event that some might be dispersed rather than being dragged to the core, I imagine it would be so thinly spread as to be of no consequence. We're continuously bombarded by cosmic rays and solar winds to which a lump of radiating waste is little more than a fart in the wind.

...and it's all good until we uncover some previously-unknown or under-estimated mechanism of astro-physics that leaves a prematurely dead sun as our lasting legacy. At least our planetary grave will glow a little less in the dark.


Shark112
Posted 12 September 2011 at 02:35 am

Just have a picture of people producing fecal matter and the feces causing people to die.

Because its waste, and it kills people.

Human civilization will get that and stay the hell away.


Stoy
Posted 19 October 2011 at 02:33 am

Why not concider cavepaintings, that have survived the test of time, and can be made to look very dramatic, who not make a paining of a black rock with "spirits" flowing up from it showing sad/sickend faces, as well as some people dragning them selves away from it further out people are showing to be stronger and are running from it or perhaps helping people away from it. I do not believe we shuld build something outside in the open, that would only atract people. No what we shuld do is disguise the entrance to the storage facility and seal it with really heavily reinforced concreate. The entrance should look like a cave and just outside of the concreate seal there should be a black rock like the rock in the paintings sorrounded but skeletons showing pain and suffering trying to get away from it.

That way if people in the future find the cave, the first the will see are the cavepaintings, showing death and suffering caused by a strange black rock, if the continue they will find what they will think is a prat of the material surrounded by serveral skeletons trying to get away from it.

However, I do see a problem with havning the black rock and the seletons there, sooner or later someone will realize that the black rock isn't dangerous, which will lead to they ignoring all the warnings...

This is difficult....


igmothemagus
Posted 23 October 2011 at 09:22 am

I always think of something like this:
http://indianajones.wikia.com/wiki/Brotherhood_of_the_Cruciform_Sword

A secret society dedicated to the protection of the secrets of the holy grail. They attempt to foil Indiana Jones and the Nazis.

Either that or a series of booby traps like in Raiders of the Lost Ark or the Goonies.

Yes I am fully aware that these are all FICTION. Just some thoughts on how absurd the concept is of trying to keep people out of an area over the ages.

It also draws thoughts of the Darwin awards to mind. It doesn't matter HOW many warning labels or obvious drawbacks a decision has. There is ALWAYS someone that is willing to ignore them to satisfy their curiosity, greed, or ego.

If the curse of the Pharaohs was actually inscribed on the tomb entrances, do you honestly think that it would have kept scientists, researchers, and grave robbers away from the tombs? ( I do realize that the curse was a media fabrication, but I believe that the concept applies here).

If the society that we are trying to communicate with IS more advanced or equivalent to ours, then the warnings would be simple and would likely be effective.

If the society is LESS advanced, then I would imagine that the human flaws of curiosity, greed, or ego would come into play and the lessons would unfortunately have to be learned "the hard way" with a few corpses to instill fear of the area having to be made. This would be akin to a real life "Curse of the Pharaohs".


igmothemagus
Posted 23 October 2011 at 09:35 am

You know, I actually have some crayons and a 7.5 year old. I might try the Crayon idea and see what she comes up with lol. I'll post a link if it's anything good.


Lion_of_God
Posted 16 July 2012 at 05:00 pm

Avoid any written language or complex symbols. People tend to be interested in dead languages. Say it's covered in multi-language warnings, people will probably stick around and try to translate them. Then they'll translate a few, and go oh shit, when they learn it's a series of warnings, and they've already hung around awhile to translate some of it.


Lion_of_God
Posted 16 July 2012 at 05:02 pm

Try to put it in a deep pit on the moon, if someone digs there they would most likely be wearing space suits.


Lion_of_God
Posted 17 July 2012 at 04:07 am

Random5 said: "Also I think the best warning would be pictorial. Emboss into titanium a picture of a person walking along, then next panel (like a comic strip), person walking up to Radiation symbol, then third panel, and fourth panel, guy dying. Have this scattered around the site, then the radiation symbol in the middle."

What if they read the other way and they think it was build as an attempt to raise the dead?


Lion_of_God
Posted 17 July 2012 at 04:58 am

DamnAwesome said: "why dont we just take the pyrimid idea build it like a pryrimid and then put traps in then put a fake treasure at the end so they think OMG we found the treasure"

Then they would go ,"Nothing else here!"


Jared
Posted 14 February 2013 at 02:05 pm

You know, if this plan half works, people may think it's an entrance to Hell, or the remains of a dead God who's corpse might by cursed. Or something else like that. Remember one of the Bible's words for Hell came from a old Garbage Site.


Excrubulent
Posted 22 July 2013 at 03:06 am

Since we're considering the idea of communicating with future civilisations, maybe there are more important things we could be communicating than "ZOMG DANGER INVISIBLE DEATH RAYS IN THIS ONE SPECIFIC LOCATION".

I mean, our own enlightenment period, and thus modern society, came out of studying recovered manuscripts from ancient civilisations. Maybe we should be putting our work into leaving a bunch of time capsules that would ensure the things we've learned are recoverable. Honestly, what's going to help the fledgeling civilisation more, the knowledge that if you stay in this one spot you will encounter an increased morbidity and mortality rate, or sanitation?

How about a Rosetta Stone idea, followed by a treasure trove of information on the scientific method, modern medicine, major philosophies and religions, modern & ancient history. Then update the capsule every decade or so, so they can do their own meta-analysis of how our society evolved and updated its discoveries.

Also, by the way, we left invisible death rays here, here, here and here. Sorry about that.


Bryon
Posted 24 November 2013 at 09:18 pm

It is possible that this has already been done thousands/millions of years ago. You should research the Oak Island "money pit". Some unnatural force went to great lengths to ensure nobody digs deep enough to find something below. Yet, many people have spent millions of dollars to dig thru the warning layers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Island

I think the only real answer here is to leave it completely unmarked. Any marking at all will cause "people" to dig.


Jonathan Hughes
Posted 07 December 2013 at 10:35 am

My two bits: Put the waste in a concrete box, surrounded by layers and layers of concrete. Fill the space between layers with stuff like rotten meat, human and animal feces, etc. This might indicate to the future civilization that the stuff in the middle is, well, waste.


Hermit
Posted 07 March 2014 at 11:15 am

I see a lot of assumptions here. The most obvious being that we can actually contain this stuff for 10,000 yrs. WIPP broke in 15yrs. A 5 yr study shows that bacteria alone will eat through the containers. Look at Hanford... leaking like a sieve since the forties. The place will become its own marker when nothing will grow and the mushrooms glow in the dark.

The other assumption is that the earth won't move. Proven historically to not be true. Look at all the cities found under water. So many civilizations have fallen before for reasons still argued over.

Radiation cannot be contained. The decay in the wild behaves differently than the controlled lab experiments. It affects everything it comes in contact with and increases the rate of decay of everything around it.

Burial does not solve anything. It is simply sweeping it under the rug. Out of sight out of mind.

Still no one wants to see the correlation between increasing cancer, leukemia, heart problems. auto-immune diseases, etc in relation to all the radioactive fallout that has been created since the discovery of radium and uranium. We are already poisoned and it will only get worse.


Eric Severance
Posted 07 March 2014 at 11:03 pm

I like Furnaces idea. It seems to me to be the best idea presented so far. simple not grand but gets the message across and protects it from being disturbed. Also the eight year old idea of pictures. combined with this would make a nice touch to convey the message.


Eric Severance
Posted 08 March 2014 at 08:21 am

another viewpoint said: "This may sound a bit morbid to some of youo, but if the future beings are of less intelligence...what's the loss if they do discover what's buried.

what do you think an advanced civilization with that viewpoint would think of you then.. He's primitive he life doesn't matter. how can you be so insensitive.


Eric severance
Posted 15 March 2014 at 07:38 pm

In reply to hermit. You are probably correct in saying that there is no way to keep it intact and the only thing to do then is to keep people away from the entire area and the landscape of thorns idea becomes pretty attractive. After thinking about it for awhile i can't think of any other thing to do cause I know we can't keep the nuclear material in place because things are already starting to break down and soon the plants will go nuclear in the places where they stand if not delt with yet I feel ashamed that we can't seem to find a better idea then to bury it somewhere in Nevada put up a warning and hope that no one ever goes near it.


Farty
Posted 15 July 2014 at 03:56 pm

Anyone see Prometheus ? The Engineers did the same thing with their weapons lab by putting a ginormous skull on top. And we all know how that ended.


Farty
Posted 15 July 2014 at 03:59 pm

Oh, by the way...

Last !


Caanis
Posted 12 November 2014 at 06:20 am

ALOT of assumptions that if another race of beings find the site that they would have some/same ideology of danger much less have the same general weakness of Terran life. Much less if they even have the same general form or composition of Terran life. If they don't have a endoskeleton would they know a skull and cross bones are parts of our internal structural makeup and being exposed represents death?

It is a responsible act to warn others of danger. Danger can be ambitious and conveying what is dangerous to us could be impossible to such a foreign life form. Example if we had pictures of the progress of radioactive damage to various Terran lifeforms and then placed "arrows" to indicate here is the stuff that did this they could take it that when life on this planet dies it become this waste. Also various ideals about using color and shape also very subjective, what if the beings sees everything slightly shifted towards the infrared/ultraviolet spectrum? Even here color is subjective. Hindu's use white for funeral usage and red for weddings. Maybe they come from a world that very small creatures are more dangerous than large creatures and imposingly large objects to us would be comforting to them.

Now warning future generations would be much easier given we have a bit more insight to how we think and view our environment. I do wonder what changes in social/ideology would take place in 10,000 years.


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