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Moon-Based Optical Backup of Civilization Critical Data

Store all the hard-won information civilization has gathered on the Moon surface
  [vote for,

Civilization has begun, blossomed and fallen many times in human history. It is also likely that many civilizations have fallen with no record, because no one else was around to write it down.

We know little of what happened on Easter island, we just have the remaining Moai, with no idea how they were installed or what they were really for. Speculation is still rife with regard to the building of the pyramids*, and interestingly there's good evidence that they were covered in writing in multiple languages, Rosetta stone-style until the Rashidun Caliphate arrived and barbarically looted all the stone to build Cairo. Anyhow, the pyramids did quite well, but ultimately failed at storing information, what is needed is something somewhat resistant to the lower levels of civilization that like running about with pointy things and destroying stuff.

A good example is something like the Nazca lines. You won't destroy them, because you can't really see them, that is until you get above them in an aircraft. They've lasted a long time and seem fairly destruction-resistant. What they don't do however, is convey much in the way of useful information. What they seem to be is a series of animal doodles, which is actually quite funny. Ultimately they will just erode away, so we need a better system.

So, we need a big surface, well lit & easily visible and an erosion-free environment where people won't just steal parts or do some farming over it. It's the moon. The moon doesn't do much most of the time. I mean, it's lovely, it lights up the sky at night** and it makes the tides go, but it could do more. Perhaps it's best feature is that it's illuminated really quite brightly by the Sun, but the angle means it's set against a black background, it's really just a great billboard. Even a reasonable telescope will get staggering detail of the surface, add in a good camera and you can obtain a HUGE amount of optical information.

Except there isn't any information, just a lot of craters, so let's change that with a fleet of Lunar rovers. The idea would be to encode information at various scales. The first scale, visible with the naked eye, would have some simple info an early civilization might make use of: A diagram of the Solar system, number of days/year & perhaps some basic geometry. Then, a diagram of a telescope.

Once your civilization is building telescopes, they will find the much smaller, detailed information: there's plenty of space for significant mathematics and physics concepts***.

Before you know it, the nascent civilization will be filtering light for IR&UV for additional layers of info, ultimately, there will be an arrow pointing to a buried selection of resources needed for the very pinnacle of civilization, such as instructions on how to make a really nice cup of tea.

*Although, thinking about it... IS there much of a mystery, or do some people really WANT there to be a mystery? "How did ancient people with no iron tools cut and move such massive stone blocks?" "Dunno, but the Greeks did it, the Romans did it, even the Welsh managed at Stonehenge and it was probably raining the whole time. Could it be that people who built absolutely loads of stuff out of stone got good at it? I mean, look at the wood construction & carving in some Renaissance-era Churches, then try and get a quote from your local joiner."


***Although these formulae are really neat and useful, we also know them to be wrong and incompatible with the observed universe, this is as annoying to us as it is likely to be to you.

bs0u0155, Mar 25 2021

FOGBANK https://en.wikipedi...%20is%20classified.
[bs0u0155, Mar 25 2021]

Cerne Abbas Giant https://en.wikipedi...i/Cerne_Abbas_Giant
[Skewed, Mar 25 2021]

Similar... Guide_20to_20Rebuilding_20Society
We've discussed this general idea before... [neutrinos_shadow, Mar 26 2021]

Shake and vac https://www.bing.co...3&FORM=VIRE&PC=U316
[not_morrison_rm, Mar 27 2021]

Moon meteorite rate https://www.forbes....on/?sh=444378e16f2b
[bs0u0155, Mar 30 2021]

https://blog.nation...pact-ever-recorded/ Not common, but this was bigger than a musket ball [a1, Mar 31 2021]


       Have you considered that life on earth is merely a self-renewing backup of tea recipes from some far superior extraterrestrial civilisation?
pocmloc, Mar 25 2021

       Tea, especially after something salty like a full English breakfast, is quite obviously suspicious in it's greatness. Maybe we should check in case the tea bush encodes Pi in the leaf structure or something.
bs0u0155, Mar 25 2021

       [+] Great idea! Would make up a good chunk of a sci-fi* story. But by the time we can engineer something on that scale, I wouldn't be so sure it would be safe from people "just stealing parts" or doing anything else that makes the surface unsuitable. If not farming, terraforming or some other large scale project.   

       * Like "A Canticle for Leibowitz," maybe?
a1, Mar 25 2021

       How would you tell if it was the tea DNA encoding pi, or the digits of pi encoding the DNA of the tea plant?
pocmloc, Mar 25 2021

       But don’t you know that NASA says they lost the technology on how to get to the moon!?
xandram, Mar 25 2021

       //But by the time we can engineer something on that scale,//   

       It's not actually that hard. Just expensive. We have had SUV-sized rovers running about on Mars for ages. They even last for years and years, the moon is a lot easier - more sun, fewer dust storms. All they have to do is drive around raking the regolith into patterns according to GPS (which apparently works on the moon). The key is getting started before the ad people.   

       //NASA says they lost the technology on how to get to the moon!?//   

       Ahhh.... if only politics and general human short-termism could take a break from something. There's such a thing as institutional knowledge, & perhaps more accurately wisdom. There's such a thing as knowledge that lives in people's heads and either isn't written down carefully, or can't be. The end of Apollo & the end of Concorde were big shiny, obvious regressions in human capability, but the same basic process is happening constantly. We know it happens, can we not budget for this at the start? Nuclear has to budget for long term clean up costs, can't big science/tech projects budget for finding a mechanism of making the lessons learned stick around a bit longer? It would end up being cheaper to pay a couple of old hands to maintain a sort of working museum version of the project?   

       When we lose this kind of knowlege as a project winds down and the staff disperse, we only have to pay to learn it all again. For example, "Fogbank" <link>
bs0u0155, Mar 25 2021

       I'm into it. But what about the fact that the moon's orbit is slowly decaying? If it crashes into the Earth, bye-bye backup. To be safe, we should slap some rockets on the moon and send it off into deep space.
ironic hotel soap, Mar 25 2021

       //fact that the moon's orbit is slowly decaying?//   

       That would be a great fact if it wasn't the opposite of true.
bs0u0155, Mar 25 2021

       //That would be a great fact if it wasn't the opposite of true.//   

       Don't mind me, just getting my daily quota of incorrect facts out.
ironic hotel soap, Mar 25 2021

       Well sure, its orbit isn’t decaying NOW - but stick around, five billion years or so.
a1, Mar 25 2021

       You want to scribble on the moon?   

       OK that's not what I was expecting.   

       I thought this was going to be about a lunar bunker housing a really big server or something.   

       //The first scale, visible with the naked eye, would have some simple info an early civilization might make use of//   

       There's not really much you can scrawl on the moon in a readably large font that would actually convey any particularly useful information other than "Hey! look at this!"   

       I suggest a giant smiley face.   

       That should make them look.   

       Anything else will need a telescope but at least that'll get their attention in the first place.   

       Alternatively a rendition of the Cerne Abbas Giant, with a bigger member, that should really get their attention, you can have his left hand pointing to the start of the actual text for when they get big enough telescopes.
Skewed, Mar 25 2021

       I gigantic eyeball looking down, that'll get their attention.   

       Oh, and;
"That would be a great fact if it wasn't the opposite of true."

       //gigantic eyeball// the Cerne Abbas Giant giant still gets my vote, two gigantic balls, gotta be better than one.
Skewed, Mar 25 2021

       The Man in the Moon came down too soon
And asked the way to Norwich.
pertinax, Mar 26 2021

       D R I N K Y O U R O V A L A T I N E !
AusCan531, Mar 26 2021

       "3001: The Final Odyssey" included a vault (Pico Vault) on the moon built for storage of computer viruses, which in the book is used for storing a digital backup copy of some humans as one consequence of the battle against the black monoliths.
sninctown, Mar 26 2021

       What if the monoliths are just a 12U 19" Rackmount server, viewed by people who don't know a server when they're looking at it?
bs0u0155, Mar 26 2021

       This is fine until some meteor overwrites the first 5 digits of pi
RayfordSteele, Mar 26 2021

sninctown, Mar 26 2021

       "My God, it's full of Das Blinkenlights!"
bs0u0155, Mar 26 2021

       A heavenly abstract.   

       //This is fine until some meteor overwrites the first 5 digits of pi// Holographic encoding?   

       All of the worst stuff could be bounced to the dark side.
wjt, Mar 26 2021

       Actually this is a valid concern because the moon's surface is not static long term. Over thousands of years the micro-impacts will obliterate any messages. Though eventually the sun will become a red giant and destroy the inner planets, and then finally there's the heat death of the universe, which solves all our problems.
pocmloc, Mar 26 2021

       By some bizarre accident, all the data gets overwritten by shake and vac advertisement.See below.
not_morrison_rm, Mar 27 2021

       The information itself would have to be dynamic. Autonomous eternal moonrocks fighting the big fight.
wjt, Mar 30 2021

       [wjt] see my first comment on this idea. We have come full circle. Is this how it is meant to work?
pocmloc, Mar 30 2021

       // the moon's surface is not static long term. Over thousands of years the micro-impacts will obliterate any messages.//   

       Well, taking a look at <link> it is stable over a long time. If you expect one musketball sized meteor per 750m2 per millennium that's less than one comma per A4 sheet per 1000 years. That's better than any data storage I can think of. Especially as impacts are obvious in form and you could reasonably interpret around them. Plus, the situation is getting exponentially better since the planets are progressively clearing the orbits.
bs0u0155, Mar 30 2021

       I will wholeheartedly support this idea on the proviso that it is renamed to "Ex-Planetary Notes". (tee hee)
AusCan531, Mar 31 2021

       To mitigate against the risk of data loss from micro-meteor impacts some redundancy of storage needs to be built in. In the same way that RAID configurations of hard disks provide good levels of redundancy and resilience to data loss, RAIM configurations of moons will do the same for this mode of data storage. The only remaining question will be about which RAID model (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 2, ... , RAID 6) should be used.
hippo, Mar 31 2021

       //that's less than one comma per A4 sheet per 1000 years//   

       So like the spec of fly doodoo mistaken for part of a word that adjusted the meaning of the descriptive for Mary from one meaning a young woman or girl to that meaning a virgin in early translations from a Hebrew text to Latin? (which may just be an urban myth of course but it nicely demonstrates the principle).   

       A mere comma can potentially change the course of religions, or even start them.   

       Minor things can have major effects,
Skewed, Mar 31 2021

       //Skew, ed// So, if [Skew] is merely the editor, who is the actual author of this comment? We need to start investigating.
pocmloc, Mar 31 2021

       It's an urban myth. Carry on.
pertinax, Mar 31 2021

       It has all the hallmarks of one, never mattered enough to me to be bothered check, still a nice example though, even if it's not :)
Skewed, Mar 31 2021

       I'm not certain you're going to be condensing data to a size 12 pixel font. And musketballs moving at incredible speeds can leave craters much larger than them.
RayfordSteele, Mar 31 2021

       //RAIM configurations of moons will do the same for this mode of data storage. The only remaining question will be about which RAID model (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 2, ... , RAID 6) should be used.//   

       There's an air(vacuum)-gapped backup on Tycho.   

       //And musketballs moving at incredible speeds can leave craters much larger than them.//   

       This is true, it looks like a more or less linear relationship between crater size and impact speed, but I maintain that A: meteorite impacts aren't common and are getting less so. 2: An impact crater looks like an impact crater, anyone sophisticated enough to be looking at the smaller stuff isn't going to be misled. If you shot a hole through a book, you'd know well enough that the hole has destroyed some information, you're not going to misinterpret it, rather try and work around the missing info, or reconstruct it from context.
bs0u0155, Mar 31 2021

       We need to have [Alterother] return to the Bakery so he can shoot musketballs through books and report back.
AusCan531, Apr 01 2021

       //We have come full circle// Yes, 3.141592653.... but should throw up a little cross logic of life, making a Q.
wjt, Apr 02 2021


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