The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How do I preserve engraved objects for a long time?  (Read 1971 times)

Offline dispalor

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Hello guys,

I lost someone a couple of days ago and I intend to engrave something of personal importantance into our planet. Let's say an object, a granite or alloy sphere with engraved information, then to do put in into a location where humans might never be to prevent them from destroying this object and then to let the universe decide what happens to it. Originally I thought I could hope for a couple of billion years, but reality sank in pretty quickly. But a couple of millions should be possible. I hope. Maybe you can help me with that.

This object does not need to be found, ever. It's more the symbolic act of preserving this bit of information on this planet (thinking about sending radio waves into space as well and so on) and I still think about what kind of symbols to use. But that is not the topic. This object can be part of the landscape, can be buried deep into the ground, noone knows it's there, it just should exist with that engraved information for as long as possible. It's always a question of luck, since... if you wake up one morning above a volcano... well... that's bad luck.

I am unsure about the material and the location. The material should not be valuable, because I want to make sure that no person has a reason to keep it. Granite, Tungsten... I have no idea how to make a judgement about what would be best suited. Just being hard doesn't mean it's good for harsh temperature, right?

The location is another thing. I thought about the botton of some ocean, Antiarctica, Australia and the saharian desert.

But more important is the material and how long I could assume it's existence. Afterwards I can think about the location...

Any advice?
The Topic should always be phrased as a question, as per site guidelines - Moderator
« Last Edit: 22/11/2015 16:14:53 by evan_au »


 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4116
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Re: Preserving engraved objects for long times
« Reply #1 on: 21/11/2015 17:08:27 »
Quote from: dispalor
Tungsten
All metals have value, and most oxidise, so a metal is probably not the best idea.
 
Quote
Granite
Granite is made up of many different crystals, which expand at different rates. This causes stresses in the rock, and weathering.

Granite is cheap and fairly hard-wearing, provided you keep it away from the effects of changing temperatures, or erosion by water, wind and dust.

On the positive side, there are many businesses that produce granite tombstones who would be delighted to produce a custom memorial for you.

To last well means engraving it deeply, and burying it deeply in a dry area.

Another option is quartz, which is a single, hard crystal, so does not suffer the stresses that granite experiences.

Location, Location, Location
Pick the flat, stable core of a continent, far from any fault zones. Choose a dry, uninhabited area, and bury it deeply.

But if it is purely symbolic, and only of relevance to yourself, why not frame a picture in your home?
 

Offline chiralSPO

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1876
  • Thanked: 143 times
    • View Profile
Re: Preserving engraved objects for long times
« Reply #2 on: 21/11/2015 18:49:23 »
Metals like tungesten, iridium, tantalum would not likely corrode. I would imagine they could last for several million years on Earth. But of course, the most resistant to corrosion are also the hardest so engrave.

Putting something like a tungsten object in stable orbit could be preserved for many, many billions of years, but is probably out of your price range...
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8126
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Re: Preserving engraved objects for long times
« Reply #3 on: 21/11/2015 20:19:27 »
Nuclear-waste is embedded in glass for long-term storage ...

Quote from: wikipedia.org
According to the Pacific Northwest National Labs, "Vitrification locks dangerous materials into a stable glass form that will last for thousands of years."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitrification


... The material should not be valuable, because I want to make sure that no person has a reason to keep it. ...

The "Mona Lisa" is an old bit of painted-wood , but people want to keep / steal it.

... a granite or alloy sphere ... Tungsten...

If you could get it to the [airless] moon , cheap aluminium would suffice ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallen_Astronaut 
« Last Edit: 21/11/2015 20:25:29 by RD »
 

Offline dispalor

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Preserving engraved objects for long times
« Reply #4 on: 21/11/2015 22:21:22 »
I would love to get it into space. Unfortunatly...

The glass mentioned would last only thousands of years? That not enough :)

So, Tungsten, Tantalum and Granite. Buried deep... Any other ideas?
 

Offline chiralSPO

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1876
  • Thanked: 143 times
    • View Profile
Re: Preserving engraved objects for long times
« Reply #5 on: 21/11/2015 22:47:51 »
You can buy a tungsten carbide ring that is engraved with a name or short phrase for under $300. Tungsten carbide is  is much, much harder than metallic tungsten, though potentially less corrosion resistant chemically...

You could bury it, or put it on a small branch (or root) of a tree that won't likely be disturbed for a few years. Eventually the tree will grow around the ring and completely engulf it. Sure the tree will eventually die or shed it, but the ring will exist for a very, very, very long time.
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8126
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Re: Preserving engraved objects for long times
« Reply #6 on: 22/11/2015 03:38:48 »
The glass mentioned would last only thousands of years? That not enough :)

I think they were being conservative ...
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25462-instant-fossils-found-trapped-in-asteroid-impact-glass/
« Last Edit: 22/11/2015 03:42:01 by RD »
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8661
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Preserving engraved objects for long times
« Reply #7 on: 22/11/2015 13:49:17 »
Even a message scratched onto a shell (a fairly soft material) can last half a million years if you are lucky.
http://www.livescience.com/48991-homo-erectus-shell-tools.html
 

Offline Wonko

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: How do I preserve engraved objects for a long time?
« Reply #8 on: 03/12/2015 00:11:02 »
Tungsten looks like the right thing to me. Now, how can we optimize the duration until the information on it is gone?

What will happen with it in the far, far future? I imagine it will end up in the ground, be this in the deep sea or just in the nearest forest. Hmm, maybe better the deep sea, who knows what kind of terraforming future generations in thousands of years will do earth's surface. Maybe the future and its technologies will be so bizarre we cannot even imagine now.

But let's assume it just will lie in the ground. Does it actually age in there? Will the engraving become less visible? Eventually, it might end up in a subduction zone and move deep into the earth. Would this be a problem? Tungsten melts around 3700K, AFAIK this temperature is reached only in the inner core, below 5km. Would it still be intact until then?

Would the shape matter? A disc is easier to produce and engrave than a ball. Should it be large, so corrosion does not matter so much? Or small, so the object will fit more nicely between rocks and stuff?
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8126
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Re: How do I preserve engraved objects for a long time?
« Reply #9 on: 03/12/2015 00:29:11 »
Even if the engraved markings are legible, will anyone be able to understand it a million years from now ? , ( assuming human beings exist then ).
Here's writing which is only five thousand years old

How many people would be able to read it today ?
 
If you want aliens from outer-space to be able to understand the engraving, NASA have already attempted to tackle that problem, see ...  http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec1.html

http://gizmodo.com/5981913/this-is-how-aliens-will-read-our-first-space-greeting-card
 
« Last Edit: 03/12/2015 01:12:48 by RD »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: How do I preserve engraved objects for a long time?
« Reply #9 on: 03/12/2015 00:29:11 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums