Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Rosetta Disc - Humanity's Analog Backup

About a month ago, I tried to get an old Quark layout off of a Zip Drive. Two problems quickly arose: few people use quark anymore, and fewer still have a functioning zipdrive. I might as well have been trying to read Linear A. This got me thinking about the problem of long-term storage and recovery of data. For example, how do we mark the location of nuclear waste dumps when the waste itself will be hazardous for thousands of years after our markers have worn smooth and the english language itself has died out?

Well, it seem that smarter people than I have been working on a similar problem. Their solution, unsurprisingly, was an analog one. Enter the Rosetta Disc.

"One side of the disk contains a graphic teaser. The design shows headlines in the eight major languages of the world today spiraling inward in ever-decreasing size till it becomes so small you have trouble reading it, yet the text goes on getting smaller. The sentences announce: “Languages of the World: This is an archive of over 1,500 human languages assembled in the year 02008 C.E. Magnify 1,000 times to find over 13,000 pages of language documentation.”

This graphic side of the disk is pure titanium. A black oxide coating has been added to the surface. The text is etched into that, revealing the whiter titanium. This bold sign board is needed because the pages of genesis which are etched on the mirror-like opposite side of the disk are nearly invisible."

Several thousand of these discs will be sent out into the world, complete with a kit that will allow the holders to add their mark in micro-etched lettering. I absolutely love stuff like this. I'm hoping to have one sent to me.

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