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Permanent Printing

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Basically, there are a lot of rich people out there that want to achieve immortality. The idea is to offer them a printing medium that you can guarantee will last for say 20000 years or more. That way they can send their memoirs down through history and have people know who they were.

(It doesn't have to be memoirs, you could publish a poem, or a dedication to a spouse or anything)

The book will be printed onto metal sheets, maybe plated copper. The front few pages will hold a preface rewritten several times like the Rossetta stone, in English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and maybe some other languages, so that future readers will have a better chance of deciphering it if English has been forgotten down the road.

The owner is free to do with it what he or she likes. Possibilities include burying it with your coffin, putting it in a library, embedding it into the cornerstone of your mansion, sending it into orbit (maybe with an rfid tag), or whatever. It would definitely cost a premium, but I think the target demographic would be willing to pay a premium.

DanDaMan, Jan 30 2008

Golden Record http://voyager.jpl....raft/goldenrec.html
Designed for near-permanence [csea, Jan 30 2008]

Zircon from 4.3 billion years ago http://www.amnh.org...rcon_chronolgy.html
[ldischler, Jan 30 2008]

Linear B's been 'cracked'. http://www.ancients...ts.com/linearb.html
Linear A awaits the genius of [MaxwellBuchanan]. [pertinax, Jan 31 2008]

Nazca Lines http://www.lost-civ...ca-nazca-lines.html
This could last a while. [Amos Kito, Jan 31 2008]

From the great and wise Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_earth
about flat earth notions [neutrinos_shadow, Feb 01 2008]

The God Code http://www.amazon.c...raden/dp/1401903002
With "the premise that God's name is literally encoded into every human body." [ldischler, Feb 01 2008]


       I was skeptical about copper as a long-life medium, but it seems that gold-plated copper was chosen for the Voyager spacecraft plaque/record, so maybe it's suitable. [link]
csea, Jan 30 2008

       I would be worried about gold or silver because people tend to steal and melt that kind of stuff.
DanDaMan, Jan 30 2008

       But these memoirs will be interesting for all sorts of very different reasons from the ones their authors would like ("What funny names they had! - And every family unit had its own 'car' god which they would worship!"). Someone once said that the only person from the 20th century who's name would be in the history books in 20,000 years would be Neil Armstrong.
hippo, Jan 30 2008

       ... Hitler, Les Paul, Einstein, Goddard, Yeager, Hopper...
FlyingToaster, Jan 30 2008


       I am not saying that these books necessarily have to be interesting, or even that they necessarily have to stay around for 20000 years. They just need to convince the buyer of those things.   

       But who says that the lives of boring people would not be interesting. When we are trying to piece together what life was like in Ancient cultures, things like funny names they had, and cars, and how often they got their haircuts are exactly the most useful information for historians. That is why the excavation of Pompei has provided so much important information.
DanDaMan, Jan 30 2008

       Exactly - yes, I do understand it's about convincing the rich, narcissistic buyer that future generations will be enthralled to read all about their lives. In that it has some parallels with cryogenics. In fact, you could make a lot of money by offering this service to the kind of gullible person who goes in for cryogenics (although arguably the mixed message wouldn't play well: Cryogenics is saying "Don't worry, of course medical science will be able to bring the frozen slush that will be your corpse back to life!" and your service is saying "You're going to die, but future generations will cherish your trivial memories").
hippo, Jan 30 2008

       Laser etch in a high nickel stainless steel, titanium, gold or plastic? How about MBE of lead into a gold sheet? I think the harder part is storage. To make it isolated enough to be safe but not so much where it won't be found. Maybe frozen in ice at one of the poles?
MisterQED, Jan 30 2008

       [zen_tom] read a book about this. Some ancient artifact found in a post-apocalyptic World that spawns a religion. Dave the Taxi Driver's diary, apparently.
theleopard, Jan 30 2008

       //like the Rossetta stone//
That's the medium you want, solid rock (or glass, if you can keep either below the melting point). For ease of printing, fired clay is worth a look. But in the span of 20000 years, you'll see many severe earthquakes and volcanoes -- even sunken continents.

       //just need to convince the buyer//
In that case, a Golden Record is fine.
Amos Kito, Jan 30 2008

       [flying toaster] I know two of those.
zeno, Jan 30 2008

       Scribe your obit on a sapphire microdot and encapsulate it in zircon (which can last billions of years). Distribute tons of these around the Earth and at least one may survive.

Or go the other way--write it on the moon in mile high letters.
ldischler, Jan 30 2008

       /The most suitable would probably be aluminium. Unless it comes into contact with an acid or mercury it is likely the most stable metal we have. When it oxidises the oxide is also known as sapphire, or carborundum. It forms a thin sheet over the metal./   

       Aluminium is relatively soft and weak. Alloying agents can be added to strengthen it, normally at the expense of corrosion resistance. Aluminium, being way up the galvanic series, is attacked by most things that come into contact with it. While it’s true that its oxide layer is somewhat protective and tenacious, it’s not as protective and tenacious as you suggest, given a modicum of exposure to most things other than air. Also carborundum is silicon carbide (what grinding wheels are made of) – nothing to do with aluminium.
Texticle, Jan 30 2008

       If you actually want to write something which will be preserved for millennia, the solution is to write something worthwhile and let everybody else preserve it. As far as I know, Newton used regular ink and paper.   

       Or encode your text (with a reasonable amount of redundancy) in DNA, pop it transgenically into a rat or two, and release them on some as-yet-ratless island. The rats'll still be around in a good few millennia, and your message will still be decipherable after 20k generations.   

       Or go for something on a much larger scale. Stonehenge was obviously the start of a long sentence, but they presumably ran out of funding before they got past the first "O".
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 30 2008

       Don't you need something that can self decode using minimal technology. The microdot is undeniably permanent, but unless zircons were prized for jewels, no one would even know to look for them. Could the zircon be spherical or cylindrical so that the lens effect could allow reading of the microdot with a naked eye?
MisterQED, Jan 30 2008

       Why do you need it to self decode? If people 20000 years hence are dumber than we are, who cares if they read it?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 30 2008

       We won't care, but they may need to rebuild and learn to avoid our mistakes.
MisterQED, Jan 30 2008

       We're a pessimistic lot of buggers, aren't we?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 30 2008

       I really never understood these worries about making nuclear dumps safe for 50,000 years, with warnings readable by a caveman. I mean, are we really in trouble because early humans didn't mark tar- pits? I just think that any far-future archaeologists are going to piss themselves laughing at the trouble we went to to mark out a stupid little waste dump. But I digress.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 30 2008

       //Why do you need it to self decode? If people 20000 years hence are dumber than we are [...]//   

       Bit of a non-sequitur in there, [Maxwell]. Consider Linear A. If you can't decipher it, does that mean you're dumber than the people who wrote it?
pertinax, Jan 31 2008

       //Carborundum is also a common name for industrial corundum, in popular usage.//   

       It is 'in popular usage' and hence it is correct. Now you must excuse me as I burn some calories, my weight's gone up by almost a kilo this week. I may have to drink less cans of cola.
vincevincevince, Jan 31 2008

       Judging by all the multilingual signs and other documents out there, and also the Wikipedian artifacts undoubtedly strewn about, your message would need only be written in 1 language.
Spacecoyote, Jan 31 2008

       //I may have to drink less cans of cola.//   

       Gr.: fewer cans of cola.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 31 2008

       Quite so. But 'less cans' is an embarrassing error to have made.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 31 2008

       Umm, I think [vincevincevince] was making a point about 'common usage' with the terms 'burn', 'weight' and 'less', in that they are technically incorrect, but many people use them in that way.
Of course, everybody used to think the earth was flat, but that didn't make it any less round.
neutrinos_shadow, Jan 31 2008

       Practically speaking, I would suggest a nonferrous wear resistant alloy, such as Hastelloy, Inconel (some Fe), etc.   

       Pretty much anything you make slurry pump or cyclone feed pump housings/volutes/impellers out of is about the hardiest shit you've ever seen. Amazingly corrosion resistant, strong, tough and incredibly wear resistant. You could put a hunk of this gear on a beach with sand constantly washing over - I'd expect wear rates in the mm per century range.
Custardguts, Feb 01 2008

       /Of course, everybody used to think the earth was flat/   

       Who, precisely?
Texticle, Feb 01 2008

       /Or encode your text (with a reasonable amount of redundancy) in DNA, pop it transgenically into a rat or two, and release them on some as-yet-ratless island. /   

       this would be a fine premise for a high science fiction. someone late at night messing around with data from the human genome project realizes that the occurrences of ALU sequences in the human genome actually is a code...
bungston, Feb 01 2008

       <Linky> for [Texticle]
neutrinos_shadow, Feb 01 2008

       I think [neutrino]'s link rather confirms [Texticle]'s scepticism; that is, some people in the past believed in a flat earth but many others did not.
pertinax, Feb 01 2008

       put your name and your religious thoughts onto a pieces of reinforced concrete, Put it into a steel box and fill the rest with sand. Proceed to bury the box in the middle of nowhere making sure that its not near any active fault lines and such.
Antegrity, Feb 01 2008

       The suggestion box at work would be a good place.   

       //encoding DNA//
Ling, Feb 01 2008

       //Ark of the Covenant// If you can find it.
Spacecoyote, Feb 01 2008

       [bung] See my link for "The God Code."
ldischler, Feb 01 2008

       Also take a nice chunk of skin and put it in some liquid nitrogen in an "indestructible" container and seal that with your tablet. You could be the second coming of jesus in a couple thousand years for all the future people know.
Antegrity, Feb 02 2008

       If resources are scarce at any time within the next 20000 years it is quite likely that any engraved hunk of metal will be pilfered and sold.   

       Clay, water, and fire are all practically free, and when properly combined they will last for millenia. Monuments appeal to that part of a rich person's psyche which wants permanent, prominent recognition for their "accomplishments," while also being cheap as dirt to produce.
Condiment, Feb 02 2008

       //last for millenia// yes, Time Team are picking up the pieces every week.
po, Feb 02 2008

       // Also take a nice chunk of skin and put it in some liquid nitrogen in an "indestructible" container and seal that with your tablet.//   

       That won't work. Liquid nitrogen only stays cold because nitrogen gas boils off, carrying heat energy away. If you put it in a sealed container, it'll warm up just the same as a bottle of water. I doubt that a couple of thousand years sitting in tepid liquid nitrogen will preserve anything much. When the guys open it up, they're going to be violently sprayed with a pretty smelly slurry.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 02 2008

       /Pre-Copernican Obscurandists, mostly./   

       From the all-knowing wiki:   

       'Several scholars have argued that "with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat" and that the prevailing view was of a spherical earth.'   

       Which was exactly my point. Upon considering the shape of the earth, one pretty quickly comes to the conclusion that it is not flat. The disappearance and reapperance of the horizon, the movements of celestial bodies, the moon being obviously round for heaven's sake - all these facts point clearly toward a non flat earth.   

       The notion that olden times people thought it was flat is by and large just a dumb cliché.
Texticle, Feb 03 2008

       Yeah, Columbus wasn't the only guy who knew the world was round. Instead, he was the only guy who didn't know its correct size.   

       Back to the idea. Copper and gold would last a long time in nature, but are too useful to avoid theft. An incredibly-durable metal tablet with letters incised in it would make a very nice corn grinder, BTW.   

       I'd take [Condiment]'s idea, and make a fired clay dome with writing and pictures on the inside walls, then bury that in sand somewhere. Folks could tunnel down to visit whenever civilization is high enough to allow such time wasting.
baconbrain, Feb 03 2008


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