Monday, December 02, 2013

Well this certainly is an interesting development.  Could it be that the longevity of information which is replicated along with other DNA is better than anything which is not organically replicated?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hope Eyrie

Copyright ©1975 by Leslie Fish

Worlds grow old and suns grow cold
And death we never can doubt.
Time's cold wind, wailing down the past,
Reminds us that all flesh is grass
And history's lamps blow out.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

Cycles turn while the far stars burn,
And people and planets age.
Life's crown passes to younger lands,
Time brushes dust of hope from his hands
And turns another page.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

But we who feel the weight of the wheel
When winter falls over our world
Can hope for tomorrow and raise our eyes
To a silver moon in the opened skies
And a single flag unfurled.

But the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

We know well what Life can tell:
If you would not perish, then grow.
And today our fragile flesh and steel
Have laid our hands on a vaster wheel
With all of the stars to know

That the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

From all who tried out of history's tide,
Salute for the team that won.
And the old Earth smiles at her children's reach,
The wave that carried us up the beach
To reach for the shining sun.

For the Eagle has landed; tell your children when.
Time won't drive us down to dust again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A message for deep time archaeologists

Years after dreaming of it, I am still consumed by the notion of communicating with terrestrial archaeologists in a far distant future, possibly in excess of 1 million years from now.  The purpose of such a communication would be strictly literary and futile. Because the human story with its pathos, horror, and glory, deserves to be told. Like a sort of chuckle and a sob across the godlike void of time, it will be a way to commune today with someone we hope will be there to read it.  Someone who will laugh and weep with us, be they humanoid or not.  A declaration of faith in the durability of sentience.  On this our gorgeous shining jewel on a background of black velvet.

Deciding what to write will be the easy part.  Look around you and tell me what is there NOT worth writing about!!??

Worst case you could do a text dump of wikipedia in its current form.

Best case, you tell a captivating and poetic if mournful tale of our own Ozymandias sentiments.  A moving acknowledgement of our own transience, and the futility of our quest for permanence and significance.  And our determination to make the quest anyway.

Along the way you tell the grand adventure of modern day archaeology and palaeontology.  (No harm in getting the audience on-side!).  You tell the troubled tale of our present quickening.  The technological highlights, the moral low points.  All with an eye to Ozymandias.

No there is no difficulty knowing what to write.

It's the How and the Where which we need to tackle. What is the best communications medium? How to encode? Where to store?

I have some strong ideas of my own, but I want to throw this problem out to the internet.

I don't expect there to be a monolithic solution which is implemented by everyone for all time. Rather a set of parameters which would outline what works, and what doesn't.

The topic ought to be very fertile in many different areas at once: materials science, information theory, geology, history, literature, engineering.

I am not sure the Long Now Foundation has exactly the right premise.  A clock which runs for a hundred years?  Big deal!

We want several gigabytes of human history still readable in a million years from now.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why buffer - we need speed. Also, a robotic arm is the only answer.

You know what? We should not bother to making a character buffer to accommodate a slow print head! We should make the print head fast enough to cope! We should just get a sufficiently slow dot-matrix printer, and make the print head speed adjustable.
Furthermore it is clear that a robotic-arm print head is the only elegant solution. The robotics should be available almost off-the-shelf. There should be three lengths. The lengths could telescope hydraulically. The printer should print bidirectionally. This means we can print a line as the print head returns to the starting position.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Taking the technology a step further

OK so let's talk about how to construct such a printer: I suppose it is easiest to start with any old 9 pin dot-matrix printer, ensuring that it has flow control. Not just the flow control on the RS232 port, but flow control such that it senses when the end of the line has been reached, and transmits a signal, which causes the printer to then output a carriage return and a line feed.
What we then need to design is a device which captures and intercepts the nine-bit words as they are output to the pins. and the horizontal and vertical control signals. It would then buffer all those signals, and play them back as slowly as required. The playback of the pin signal would of course be amplified and fed to a large 9 pin solenoid array.'

The design of the shuttle which moves around the concrete is still unclear. If we want it to be cheap, we will confine ourselves to horizontal surfaces. If we want something for vertical (but flat) surfaces then another device would doubtless need to be adapted.

Let us conceive of our concrete footing as a page. I have in mind a rail which is mounted outside and at the top of the page. Moving along this rail is a box which grips the rail with two rubber wheels. At right angles to the rail is a shaft which is controlled by another set of two rubber wheels. At one end of this shaft is the print head. On the other end is an active counterweight. The active counterweight moves independently (two more rubber wheels) in order to ensure the print head exerts a constant downward pressure upon the concrete surface.

Another (possibly better) concept would be to have a boom arm mounted on a pivot at the top of, and at the centre of the page. As the boom arm swings, the length of the boom arm is reduced as required to maintain a straight horizontal line. The counterweight moves independently as above, to ensure the pins exert a constant pressure.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A concrete achievement

Still on about the rosetta footing. Perhaps we should found a wiki to get this done. Everyone in the movement should help fund the development of a dot matrix printer for concrete footings. The printer parts would then be mass-produced, and ordered in kit form for local assembly. Then it is a matter of local subscribers allocating themselves a slab of text (no pun in ten did) and getting it printed in three languages on the concrete foundations of several domestic dwellings in their local area. Included would be administrative text referencing the other texts in other geographic locations, and deciphering notes. Each location should permit the discovery of at least 50% of the remaining texts.

The texts themselves ought to be a subset of the wiki, with a heavy skew towards archaeological and palaeontological literature, as well as original source text, wherever multiple translations are available. Each text should be transcribed onto concrete in three languages, but the choice of languages need not be proscribed. As long as there is a degree of overlap and redundancy, a variety of languages will probably be of benefit.