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The Teflon* Archive

Because Teflon lasts a long long time
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,
against]

*Teflon is a registered trademark of DuPont. I'm not going to try to reproduce that (R) symbol here.

Synopsis:
Teflon can be produced in any color, is heat resistant, fire resistant, flexible, wear-and-tear resistant, chemically very inert, waterproof, and doesn't get smudged by dirt. It even resists "ultraviolet decomposition", which causes most other plastics to last a lot less than (as claimed by environmentalists talking about litter) forever. So, let us make book pages from this stuff! Let us especially make Very Important Reference Books this way, for the Ultimate Archive. (Ladies, if you want clothes made from Teflon, because they will last for however-long it takes for any fashion fad to cycle around and come back into style, remember they will probably all be "slips". :)

Details:
The physical properties of Teflon, as described above, are the result of its chemical composition. This is basically long chains of carbon atoms surrounded by fluorine atoms. The carbon-fluorine chemical bond is quite strong, stronger than the carbon-oxygen bond, which explains its fire resistance. That is, for Teflon to burn in oxygen, the oxygen has to cause a strong chemical bond to be replaced by a weaker one, and this is something that just doesn't happen easily in Nature. (Add fluorine to carbon dioxide, though, and it's not difficult for carbon-fluorine bonds to replace carbon-oxygen bonds.) Next, while Teflon features carbon-carbon bonds in those long chains, these are actually physically protected by the surrounding fluorine atoms. For oxygen to get at those bonds, the carbon-fluorine bonds have to be broken first!

Anyway, since the carbon-fluorine bond is so strong, there is very little tendency for the atoms in Teflon to interact with anything else. Thus does everything slip from it instead of stick to it. It also explains the wear-and-tear and heat resistance of the material. As for colors, it is my understanding that this depends on additives during manufacture, and that transparent Teflon is the "natural" color.

For those who wonder how Teflon sticks to frying pans, the answer is a heat-and-pressure process, with the pan first having its surface etched (like frosted glass), to maximize the surface area of contact between the two materials. Some small amount of chemical reaction may also be involved (heat certainly promotes such), and that would be the real clincher. But in this Idea, I am wanting to apply heat and pressure WITHOUT fusing the teflon to anything other than itself, as described next.

Let us imagine bins of colored Teflon dust, including white. A process reminiscent of ink-jet printing is used to lay down an entire page of evenly deep colored dust, including white, on an appropriate flat surface. For a mental image of the flat surface, I suggest a thin layer of synthetic sapphire over a warm griddle. Synthetic sapphire is fairly slippery and heat-resistant and inert stuff in its own right. Also, this process may need to be performed in a vacuum, to prevent moving mechanisms from pushing air about, which in turn would blow the slippery dust about. On top of that dusty page is unrolled a microthin layer of opaqueTeflon. Another page of dust is "printed" on top of that layer, which has the sole purpose of keeping the two sets of dust separate. A press-down plate (also sapphire coated) is now placed over the griddle. Lots of heat and pressure are applied, fusing all the dust and creating a single sheet, looking just as if "normally" printed in full color on both sides. To the best of my knowledge (and several Google searches), there are few if any inks that can permanently stick to Teflon, so I am suggesting this alternative.

OK, so it could be possible to make single book pages by that process. With appropriate conveyors and lots of baseplate/griddles (and an appropriate sapphire heat/pressure roller), some degree of mass production should also be possible. We therefore could produce all the pages of a book, which then need to be bound. Traditionally, quality books have their pages sewn together (which would work with Teflon pages) into groupings called "signatures", which in turn are (these days, anyway) glued into the binding -- which probably would not work so well with Teflon. However, for really long lasting books, the binding should also be made from Teflon (significantly thicker material), and so perhaps we should simply use more heat and pressure to melt all parts of the binding-edge together. Microwaves of an appropriate frequency may make this part easier.

One of the things about the Information Age, that is starting to worry a lot of people, is the fact that we have gathered enormous amounts of data on specialized media, and in specialized data formats, that have become obsolete over the decades. The ease with which digital information can be copied seems to have come with the price of a lessened ability to retain data for the long term. Well, if the gathered data was considered worthy of being saved in the first place, then it follows that losing the ability to scan that data is something to be seriously avoided!

Meanwhile, plain old fashioned books are starting to be replaced by digital gagetry, including the Internet. It seems reasonable to think that everything that yet survives on paper is going to eventually be fed into the Internet. Technology will improve to the point where portable electronic document gadgetry will be more convenient to carry and use than books, and so an entire industry, which had been vitally important to the development of civilization, will go the way of the buggy whip.

The problem, for which I am suggesting this Idea, is simply that extremely few technologies are perfect. Gadgets fail. Power systems fail. And civilizations have fallen so many times over the millenia that it would be foolish to think that such will never, ever, happen to us. So I suggest we consider the Boy Scout motto, and "Be Prepared!"

What WILL we do if all the old fashioned books had been declared obsolete and trashed, to make room for data disks and chips and crystals and who-knows-what...and then civilization falls? Without electricity, how is anyone going to ACCESS all that data? Consider the legends of Atlantis, and wonder about whether or not it also had had a digital civilization...and why there seem to be no recognizable records today. Supposedly Atlantis sank 12,000 years ago, and after it went under, it took us that long to once again discover and develop everything needed to achieve a digital civilization, complete with impermanent records!

If Atlantis really existed, and if our own civilization falls, then can we PLEASE not waste 12,000 years reinventing everything again?

So, enter the Teflon Archive, consisting of dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, general how-to manuals, specialized references -- especially including papermaking and book printing! -- and so on. In several languages. In multiple copies, in multiple locations, some public, some hidden in time capsules. Then let everyone know that they exist and are mostly useless now, but are findable if needed. So that if the almost-worst-thing comes to pass, we will not leave our surviving descendents in such ignorance that prejudicial superstitions become as common as in ancient history, and interfere for millenia with rebuilding.

Vernon, Oct 14 2003

Regarding bacteria that eat plastics.... http://www.anybook4...ail/0670496626.html
Teflon will be inedible. Bacteria cannot break the carbon-fluorine bonds any more easily than oxygen in a fire. [Vernon, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

and may I most humbly suggest a variation on... Fanfold_20Bookbinding
to produce the volumes. [FlyingToaster, Oct 12 2010]

Guide to Re-Building Society Guide_20to_20Rebuilding_20Society
Similar but different [neutrinos_shadow, Oct 14 2010]

Morpho Butterflies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morpho
Mechanical colour [neutrinos_shadow, Oct 14 2010]

Asimov Essay http://www.koransky...nyoneListening.html
If you search the web enough you might be able to find the text of the original essay, "The Power of Progression". This one at least describes the other one... [Vernon, Oct 15 2010]

[link]






       So [V], I always hear about how plastic items that wash up on Antarctic shores will sit there for 1000 years, and that a plastic bottle in a landfill will last 10,000 years. I want to know: how much more durable than plain old polyethylene is Teflon? Because polyethylene books would be cheap. Plus, you could use a Sharpie to draw mustaches on all the faces - not possible with your scheme.
bungston, Oct 15 2003
  

       bungston, most plastics if buried in landfills will indeed last a long long time. But when exposed to sunlight for enough months, the ultraviolet light that would give you a sunburn will fracture the plastic molecules, and gradually break a plastic object down. It will take a while to become dust, but not centuries. Also, it is possible that at some point during the breakdown process, certain bacteria may be able to assist. (Did you know that the reason asphalt roads need to be repaved, usually every 7 years, is that the tar gradually gets broken down by bacteria? It's not a huge leap from digesting tar to digesting plastics!)   

       Anyway, for Teflon, the carbon-fluorine chemical bonds are tough enough to require higher-energy ultraviolet photons, to be broken. In a glowing object like the Sun, most of its energy output is in the infrared, some is in the visible-light region, a fraction is in the ultraviolet, and so on. Higher-energy ultraviolet photons are comparatively rarer than ordinary sunburn-causing ultraviolet. Thus it takes longer for sunlight to break Teflon down than for most other plastics. So, part of the reason I specifically mentioned thick Teflon book covers was to offer that much more protection for the pages....   

       Polyethylene may be easier to write on than Teflon, but much of what is written can be rubbed off too easily. Yes, there are plastics and special inks that work well together (look at just about any candy bar wrapper these days), but I wouldn't want to trust their durability if something better was available. Not to mention that polyethylene is combustible, like paper. There are times to cut costs, and there are times to do the best possible job, period. Note that I described the collapse of civilization as the "almost-worst-thing", because the worst thing would be the end of the human species, such as could be caused by a giant meteor impact -- and that is something not preventable by anything less than the equivalent of our modern electric-powered digital civilization.   

       Rods Tiger, a "Sharpie" is a brand name for a fine-point indelible-ink porous-tip pen. It probably won't scratch either polyethylene or Teflon. But you are correct in that Teflon is susceptible to pokes and scratches and cuts with hard sharp objects. So is paper, of course. Since books made of paper have in the past generally been protected from such treatment, it is reasonable to think that as long as books are considered worth having for their handiness and easy data accessibility, then any made from Teflon would be given the same respect.
Vernon, Oct 15 2003
  

       Sounds expensive. Would it not be cheaper to collect these reference books, then wrap each in a sheet of teflon?
lintkeeper2, Oct 15 2003
  

       lintkeeper2, wrapping up ordinary books may be somewhat OK, but there are limits. Heat that might not melt the Teflon can cause "destructive distillation" of the cellulose in paper (the same process that turns coal into the "coke" used for steel-making, and yields "coal tar" as a byproduct). And unless the Teflon makes an hermetic seal, oxygen will get at the paper and slowly "burn" it (paper that has turned brown/brittle with age actually is "burning", very very slowly). Remember that Teflon can be punctured. Water can get at unsealed paper, too, of course. So, again I'd prefer that an Archive intended to aid the rebuilding of civilization be as inherently durable as possible. A punctured Teflon book-page will still be mostly readable, centuries after a paper book has moldered.
Vernon, Oct 15 2003
  

       Thanks, skipper. Many restaurants make do with laminated menus. Perhaps this needs to be suggested to yours?   

       Captain James Tiberius Kirk is the correct full name, for those who don't know and aren't funning.
Vernon, Oct 15 2003
  

       Very nice. I think every society needs a good backup every now and then. I think you'll find that a continuous roll process would be faster, cheaper, more durable, and easier to store. Less easy to use, but this is an archive not a daily-use application.
Worldgineer, Oct 15 2003
  

       call me lazy but i get tired just looking at so much to read here. teflon books is a great idea though. well i did read the synopsis.
aquamarine, Oct 15 2003
  

       Would this be any cheaper than etched metal pages? Metal might well be more valuable (and therefore better protected and looked after) than teflon in a post colapse of civilisation era.
RobertKidney, Oct 27 2003
  

       Perhaps the book of mormon was done this way...
RayfordSteele, Oct 27 2003
  

       aquamarine, believe me this is dear Vernon being brief..
po, Oct 27 2003
  

       RobertKidney, yes, many metals have superior resistance to heat, scratching, and puncturing. But metals corrode, and are lots heavier than paper or plastic. Worse, one of the best ones for corrosion resistance, titanium, is flammable (hard to START burning, but once it starts, titanium burns in water, carbon dioxide, sand, and even pure nitrogen!) Also, consider the hypothetical case of the Incas having a written language, embossed onto gold sheets. Let's even assume there were diagrams of some sort of moderately advanced technology, say a steam engine. Then the ignorant Spanish come along, puzzle over the diagrams (interpreting isometric drawings is actually a learned skill), declare the Inca writings to be worthless, and melt the gold into ingots for easy transport and increased security against theft. Hypothetical, sure, but such recycling DOES happen to valuable metals!   

       Meanwhile, teflon sheets can't be burned to produce heat, are too slippery to be used as toilet paper, ...; in general, can't be RE-used for much in a low-technology world. Metals are ORDINARY, and most people know how useful they are, to be modified into something different than their original shapes. I would venture that if civilization collapsed and one day somebody dug up a Teflon archive, the sheer strangeness of Teflon as a material would pique curiosity as to what all those markings were about. And since I specified lots of reference materials that would necessarily involve pictures and diagrams (in highly informative color, hard to do with metals), you can be sure that it won't take long for the Archive to be declared too valuable to damage....
Vernon, Oct 27 2003
  

       I actually thought Encylopedia Galatica was better as a real idea than as a front. Using materials that don't break down and can't be used for anything else makes sense.
Ford, Oct 08 2010
  

       Teflon itself is pretty durable, but you're relying on coloured pigments in some of it, no? By and large, coloured pigments are not stable. Best print in Braille.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 11 2010
  

       [MaxwellBuchanan], no the Idea proposes using Teflon of different colors, not pigments of different colors. The distinction is somewhat important, even if pigments are the reason Teflon (the plastic) is available in many colors (all the way through a solid piece of plastic). We do not add any pigments to the Teflon in this Idea, we simply fuse Teflon powder that is already colored. The size of the powder grains will always be greater than molecules of pigment (or whatever causes a given color) inside the grains. And since they start inside plastic, and stay inside plastic, the plastic protects them from deterioration.
Vernon, Oct 12 2010
  

       Man, they weren't kidding about you, [Vernon]...   

       //If Atlantis really existed, and if our own civilization falls, then can we PLEASE not waste 12,000 years reinventing everything again?//   

       I would like to question your implied premises; that   

       1.) what we have in the way of 'civilization' (and I don't mean this to sound cynical) would be at all important to whomever would be doing the reinventing. I'm assuming it would not be us, and that someone else might do a better job next time.   

       2.) 12,000 years (or however long) would be 'wasted.' This makes no sense to me. Were the last 12,000 years wasted? What should we have been doing instead? (I can guess at some of the answers, like "not killing each other" or something. But, have the "old books" we managed to preserve kept us from doing it?)   

       Now, nice durable books is/are another thing altogether. [+]
Boomershine, Oct 12 2010
  

       Maybe our surviving descendants would do a little better if they could just refer back to a good description of whatever event/holocaust left them to start over. "DO NOT do THAT", and then let them figure out how to avoid such a thing, since we obviously couldn't.   

       They might do better with our help, but I doubt it.   

       I already bunned this, but I'd do it again if I could.
Boomershine, Oct 12 2010
  

       "If you can read this, civilization has again progressed too far... burn the books"   

       I wouldn't worry about it though: there won't be any accessible oil or mineral deposits.
FlyingToaster, Oct 12 2010
  

       //[MaxwellBuchanan], no the Idea proposes using Teflon of different colors, not pigments of different colors. //   

       Teflon is white - it is (as you pointed out) a carbon chain with fluorine side groups. Coloured Teflon is made by adding pigments to the polymer. They are intimately mixed with it (not just on the surface), but they are pigments nonetheless and will eventually degrade.   

       Whether they will affect the mechanical properties of the Teflon as they break down, I don't know. But they will certainly fade.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2010
  

       [Boomershine], the biggest flaw in most civilizations of History has been slavery. The thing that started the end of slavery was the invention of the horse collar (about 1000 years ago). And back in ancient Greece, when the hypocrisy was pointed out, that the "democracy" of Athens was built upon the backs of slaves, the reply was something to the effect that "when the millstones turn by themselves, then we will free the slaves." Well, actually, slaves had more uses than just turning millstones, but modern technology --especially the tech that accompanied the harnessing of electricity-- has certainly made slavery unnecessary. And it takes a lot of people to build/support such technology, especially to build enough of it so everyone can benefit from it. Which means you need a civilization.   

       [FlyingToaster], some of the things we've learned means that repeating everything is not necessary. Hydropower, for example, does not depend on many more resources than stone and downflowing water. Many necessary resources (like copper) will be mine-able from the ruins of our current civilization. The MOST important thing that should be passed on, I think, is that overpopulation was our downfall. Because even now we are finally starting to notice that we don't have all the resources we need for 7 billion people (yet we keep breeding like dumb animals...and there is only one possible outcome to that, as described by Thomas Malthus). In other words, it is possible to have a decent civilization powered by hydropower (and wind power and solar power), provided it keeps its population under control.   

       [MaxwellBuchanan], that depends on the pigment. We only need 5 (the usual Cyan/Yellow/Magenta/Black set, plus white), and if they are simple-enough chemical compounds (like, say, iron oxide, which is reddish and stays reddish for billions of years), the degradation you are worrying about won't actually be a problem. Let's see, titanium dioxide is the whitest substance known, and extremely stable, elemental sulfur is quite yellow and also very stable....   

       [Flying Toaster], regarding Fanfolded books, that would be workable, of course. Could print two whole books on one folded roll of Teflon (one on each side).
Vernon, Oct 12 2010
  

       //that depends on the pigment.//   

       True. But it does mean that the stability of your archive is limited by the stability of the pigment, not of the teflon. I'd emboss things.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2010
  

       //fanfold... two whole books// well the idea was to glue the folds together; thought I'd bring it up 'cuz it's a natural for holding a pigment inside the fold (unlike the referenced post, the book would be printed on the inside of the fold and read through the teflon). Of course now you need something to back the print so it doesn't "bleed" through the transparent "paper". ahh I see... you're printing entire page including the whitespace.
FlyingToaster, Oct 12 2010
  

       [MaxwellBuchanan], no, it is more likely that ultraviolet decomposition will affect the Teflon before the pigments (if chosen wisely) lose their stability.
Vernon, Oct 12 2010
  

       //And it takes a lot of people to build/support such technology, especially to build enough of it so everyone can benefit from it. Which means you need a civilization.//   

       I know I am derailing the technical part of this conversation with such comments, but again I'd like to challenge this premise.   

       Personally, I think we got off the track about the time we (or most of us) gave up hunting/gathering. I know this is usually considered romantic, idealistic, and just goes against the grain for most people.   

       An archeologist I recently heard made a comment that has stuck with me, regarding Native American cultures. He observed that many extinct, or nearly extinct 'civilizations' have been characterized as being not very complex, in part because they left so little impact (scars and junk) on the earth. He then suggested that since many of these groups got along for thousands of years without leaving a big mess behind, that maybe we should change our criteria for what constitutes 'successful' when it comes to civilizations.   

       Nothing less than an apocalypse would give us another chance at this whole thing. And, we'd probably make most of the same mistakes. You would prevent this by providing durable books from the previous administration. I would prefer to let our surviving descendants consider their predicament (and our fate), and go from there.   

       Sounds like we have the same objective--to create a better civilization...whatever 'better' means.
Boomershine, Oct 12 2010
  

       Cube-shaped is better.
8th of 7, Oct 12 2010
  

       //maybe we should change our criteria for what constitutes 'successful' when it comes to civilizations.//   

       I think this is a modern and over-romanticised view, as you suggested.   

       Given the choice, would you rather be living as you are now, or would you prefer to be a hunter-gatherer of, say, 10,000 years ago?   

       The hunting and gathering bit looks attractive (mainly because you can't see the downsides of it as easily as you can see the faults with the way you live today). However, chances are you would already be a dead hunter-gatherer. If so, you would have spent much of your short life cold and hungry, and would have had to accept the deaths of many people around you from trivial and avoidable causes. Your own death would probably have happened from some minor infection.   

       You'd never have had a hot bath; eaten pizza; seen other countries; heard Mozart; tasted chocolate; known how vast the universe is; spent a night without lice; or read a book.   

       Some people would enjoy that, but I don't think many people would last long. I would rather be alive now than at any time in the past, and I'm sufficiently optimistic to think that I'd rather be born 1000 years in the future than now.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 12 2010
  

       [Boomershine], even hunter-gatherers left quite a mark on the world. Mammoths, cave bears, sabertooths, terror birds, horses in the Americas, and plenty more species all became extinct because hunter-gatherers were excellent at making more hunter-gatherers, and killing other animals faster than those animals could breed. The paleontologists say that the current era is experiencing global species extinctions at a rate not matched since the dinosaur-killer asteroid, and just about all of it is our fault. You can be very sure that humans do NOT coexist with Nature in a sustainable way! --and will never do so, as long as propaganda exists about "be fruitful and multiply". Because that word "sustain" means a human population must be as constant as the populations of all the other species out there. Because the total biomass on the planet is roughly a constant, so the more of us, OBVIOUSLY the less there can be of other types of living things.
Vernon, Oct 12 2010
  

       [Vernon] My bunning of your Teflon* Archive is unequivocal and unqualified, just for the record.   

       Both you and [Maxwell] (not so sure about 8th of 7) make good sense and great points in your comments. Thank you.   

       We could have long debates about all of this. Frankly, I'm getting too old for some of them, and I don't wish to stretch your patience much more than I have.   

       [Max] I think it is all but impossible for us to imagine what life would have been like in almost any other time, let alone 10,000 years ago. Yours is a rhetorical question, not a practical one. But, If I could take that pizza with me, I just might just go. Life to me is much more about quality (subjectively defined) than about quantity. There is plenty of archeological evidence to suggest that people in past times enjoyed great joy and happiness. I think you'd have a hard time arguing that we have any more today, pizza or no pizza.   

       [Vernon] //...humans do NOT coexist with Nature in a sustainable way//   

       Of all modern human failures, I think the greatest might be that we seem to think we are separate from Nature. Everything we think and do *is* part of Nature. Our fellow earthlings (all of them) would surely benefit from a little more consideration on our part of that fact.
Boomershine, Oct 12 2010
  

       // plenty of archeological evidence to suggest that people in past times enjoyed great joy and happiness.//   

       I'm not so sure. Did you have anything specific in mind?   

       Also, if some distant civilisation compared our remains with those of, say, aboriginal Australians, I think they would assume that we were much happier (better fed, longer lifespan, better communications....etc).   

       That's not to say that everyone is happy now, nor that everyone was miserable in the past. But I think a hunter gatherer who had just been through a tough winter and lost two children would probably want to slap us if we told him he was better off than we were.   

       We're just spoilt and, like all civilisations, we find our own things to whinge about.   

       Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Give him a fishing net, and he'll complain about the stress of ecological guilt and the burden of net-maintenence.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 13 2010
  

       //Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Give him a fishing net, and he'll complain about the stress of ecological guilt and the burden of net- maintenence.//   

       (My favorite version: Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll sit in a boat all day and drink beer. You've heard it, no doubt.)   

       You are most likely right [Max]. And I can never 'win' this argument. But, your example here serves to suggest that the addition of more technology doesn't do much to guarantee anyone's happiness.   

       There appears to be such disparity in human happiness at this very moment that claims of more or less of it at different times in the past are sort of pointless, I think, at least to me.   

       We don't get to choose in which time we live. We can only make the best (or worst, I suppose) of what we have. This would have always been true, and it seems reasonable to expect that people have always responded in the same ways, some happy, some not so much.   

       //Did you have anything specific in mind?// That's tough...artifacts of happiness? Art, I suppose, is the best example I can come up with. Evidence that most people danced and made music...anecdotally, I have found my own greatest happiness in unlikely places and times, almost never related to how 'much' of anything I possessed.
Boomershine, Oct 13 2010
  

       Most people become happy when their needs are met and they have time to play. But "needs" are not the same for everyone, because psychological needs must be included with the physical needs. Some need peace-and-quiet. Some need lots of crowd-interaction. Some may need things they might never experience, like a camping trip in a jungle. Every city has public parks with nonhuman lifeforms in them, because despite lying claims about us being better than the rest of Nature, we still crave interactions with other parts of Nature. The saddest thing about the human population explosion is that the extinctions we are causing means that future generations of humanity will not be able to experience as much variety of Nature as we have been able to experience; we are making the future POOR.
Vernon, Oct 13 2010
  

       [Vernon] I was beginning to feel badly for hijacking your great idea....but, then I remembered: this is the HBakery. Thanks for continuing the conversation.
Boomershine, Oct 13 2010
  

       Btw [Vernon], these Teflon* books would be waterproof and spilled food would not stick to them? (For this, you only got three buns?!?)
Boomershine, Oct 13 2010
  

       This Idea is one among many that lost all its buns and bones in the big hard drive crash a few years ago.
Vernon, Oct 13 2010
  

       //So you want a bun because you *didn't* write it in Teflon ?//   

       That would serve as a pretty good reason. "If only Vernon could have written his idea in Teflon..."   

       ([bigsleep] Could I bum a bun for [Vernon]?)
Boomershine, Oct 14 2010
  

       //overpopulation was our downfall//
At last, other people are starting to realise this. We need to spread the word: 2 kids per couple, that's all. (The legal ramifications are somewhat more complex, but if attitudes are changed first, changing the laws will follow without too much undue fuss.)
This Teflon* concept is great, by the way. We did something similar here once before, involving a monolith-type archive (see link).
Idea to get around the 'degradation of ink" problem: mechanical colour, instead of chemical. For example, the blue morpho butterfly (link) isn't blue coloured, it only reflects blue light. I describe it as working with the wave properties of light, instead of the particle properties (as photon-atom interaction is).
neutrinos_shadow, Oct 14 2010
  

       ////overpopulation was our downfall// At last, other people are starting to realise this...2 kids per couple, that's all.//   

       Many countries are at or below this level today. There are dire economic consequences for rates much lower. Not disagreeing about general overpopulation, but the solution is far from a simple one.
Boomershine, Oct 14 2010
  

       //There are dire economic consequences for rates much lower.//   

       You mean because the ratio of pensioners to workers increases? True. But if you mean there's a dire consequence of much reduced populations, I don't see why.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2010
  

       It’s a short-term direness, and is to do with the pensiony bit. Easily solved by converting them from pensioners to elderly people.
pocmloc, Oct 14 2010
  

       //You mean because the ratio of pensioners to workers increases? True.//   

       The P/W ratio, primarily, yes. Also (not quite so dire, perhaps) shifts in markets, labor force, and resource allocation.   

       I was mostly rethinking recent articles in The Economist, which--for the first time--made me consider that there was a down side to declining fertility rates.   

       I've been on the ZPG bandwagon for so long, I find it hard to think about any down side of having more breathing room.
Boomershine, Oct 14 2010
  

       //converting them from pensioners to elderly people.//   

       Not sure what you mean by this. As a pensioner, should I be worried?
Boomershine, Oct 14 2010
  

       Ah, OK then. We agree. I think populations need to drop way down - some fraction of today's. And I think a replacement rate of 0.8 or 0.7 (ie, children per individual; twice that for children per couple) is a reasonable compromise between getting the population back down, and having an unbalanced age distribution.   

       It always cracks me up when people tell me they want to help save the planet for their children.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 14 2010
  

       Too bad there isn't some way to get the General Overpopulation to visit the HB and read this stuff. Might be a bandwidth/traffic issue, I guess, like everywhere else.
Boomershine, Oct 15 2010
  

       While overpopulation is the basic cause of most human problems in the world, there is another problem related to resources. Various people are fond of saying that the world has plenty of resources for everyone, and that the problem THEY see is a matter of unequal distribution of resources. To a significant extent, they are correct. BUT, also, they are only correct in the short term. In the long term, if population increase isn't stopped, there is no such thing as "enough resources". Isaac Asimov once wrote an essay in the 1960s, when the global population increase was about 2% per year, that in less than 7000 years the human race, given the technology to do so, could convert all the mass in the Observable Universe into human bodies. After which everyone would die, since there would be no oxygen to breathe (it was all converted into human bodies, see?). Nowadays the population increase is down to a little more than 1% per year, so it will take longer to do that, but rest assured, if the technology existed, then it would be inevitable, so long as human population does not become stabilized.
Vernon, Oct 15 2010
  

       //overpopulation is the basic cause of most human problems in the world//   

       You could look at it another way. If say, half of the humans on Earth were removed, I'm pretty sure we'd start in again on whatever we were doing before and fill 'er back up, don't you?   

       Getting the population under control is essential, but making changes in the way we do things is even more important in the long run. Trouble is, the long run is more than one lifetime. And who wants to make big changes for results you'll never live to see realized?
Boomershine, Oct 17 2010
  

       //Well you could imagine that the cooperative spirit required would at least be realised before tangible results//   

       As you know, I can be a little slow on the draw [bigsleep], so bear with me.   

       I agree that we'd need a cooperative spirit. And, that seems to have been in rather short supply, certainly in a global sense, if not almost everywhere--so far. If we could achieve, or find that spirit, I'd think we'd not only realize some immediate satisfaction and short term results, but we'd be half way to solving the whole thing. It's just such a big IF.
Boomershine, Oct 17 2010
  
      
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