Future Be Warned

Since we apparently have decided not to dump nuclear waste into volcanoes, we’re busy stuffing it into the earth. Thousands of tons of radioactive sludge, equipment, tools, and chemicals we just don’t know what else to do with are being interred in permanent burial sites such as the one in the New Mexico desert. The stuff may be safe for now, but some of this stuff has a half-life of 10,000 years. How do we ensure that future generations will know the area is dangerous? Even if all intelligent life is wiped out and humanity gets rebooted, so we can’t assume any kind of evolved linguistic comprehension? Wired:

The waste site will be surrounded by a four-mile outer fence of dozens of 25-foot, 20-ton granite markers engraved with multi-lingual and pictographic warnings. Inside that perimeter will be a massive earthen berm 33 feet high, forming a rectangle matching the footprint of the underground site. The berm will be implanted with magnets and radar reflectors to make it obvious that it’s not a natural formation. A structure in the center of the space and two subterranean rooms will hold detailed information on the facility, and hundreds of super-hard disks printed with pictographic danger signs will be scattered throughout its 120 acres.

Music: Herb “Ohta-San” Ohta :: Little Grass Shack

3 Replies to “Future Be Warned”

  1. My first reaction when reading “super-hard disks” :
    – “Yeah, like they’ll still be using SATA in 10,000 years…”

  2. This is a tough problem: What kind of iconography do you use to indicate “danger” to future people, regardless of language, culture, symbolism, etc? And how do you do that without suggesting that there’s something *really cool* buried in there behind all the spooky spikes and scary faces?

    It’s strange how totemic some of this stuff winds up looking…

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