Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wanted: Immortality on a Budget

I want to write my name in the wet concrete of the universe and get something that will say, "Joelogon was here," forever -- or as close as I can get. It'd be a monument, or at least a marker, of my existence. So here's the question:
What's the longest-lasting physical artifact that I can buy, create, or commission (at any given price point) to leave behind?
A Kilroy was here reference if you were wondering.

I explicitly say "physical artifact" to rule out flaky and intangible things like radio messages beamed out into space, true love, and the genetic legacy left to my (as yet notional) descendants.

I want something that I can hold, that can later be analyzed and puzzled over by alien archeologists in the far-distant future.

Or something I can revisit when I get nostalgic for my corporeal existence every once in an eon after I've Ascended as a pure energy being in a higher plane of existence.

10,000 years is chump change -- I'm talking at least a million years. We probably have a hard stop a few billion years from now when the Sun grows into a red giant, but I realize I'm not going to be spending a lot on this project, so even a mere billion years is probably out of scope (even though the oldest known rocks are estimated to be about 4 billion years old).

While we're setting some boundaries, let's add a few more:
  • We're stuck in the gravity well: No launching of objects into interstellar space.
  • Set it and forget it: No caretaker cults to polish and maintain the object.
  • Readily available, existing materials: Yes, I know the singularity is right around the corner. But I'm talking about materials that exist in usable quantities now.
  • Recognizably personalized: Has to be something I've marked as my own. No pointing at the Moon and saying "Mine!"
I'm thinking about a layered approach -- say, a pure platinum sphere, encased in glass...and that's where I get stuck. Don't have clue. Materials scientists, weigh in.

Where should I keep it?
Say we solve the materials science issue -- what about the geography? Where would you keep an artifact you want to last forever?

We've got an object that's supposed to outlast humanity, and anyway, we want to keep it away from people. The last thing we need is some crackhead from the dregs of a far-future civilization breaking the thing open to sell the shiny metal bits to a pawnshop.

So figure in shipping and handling costs to get the thing drop-shipped to an isolated area. Which one: Find some geographically stable desert and bury it? Get under the Antarctic ice sheet? Or take a boat ride over to the Mariana Trench and throw the thing overboard?

Until the sun explodes, what are the other major threats my artifact would face: Corrosion, erosion, tectonic activity? Countless cycles of temperature fluctuations?

Anyway, I don't have a clue, so I'd like to hear some ideas for objects at $100, $1,000, $10,000, or the price point of your choosing.


Anonymous said...

I think this is what you are looking for Remember me.

Joelogon said...

It's a little out a scope, not to mention high-maintenance. But sure, along those lines.

Perfesser Bear said...


So I got to wondering, "What's the point to a memorial to Joelogon, if it's buried in the desert, frozen in the ice sheet, or submerged in the Ocean's deepest cranny?"

Not a lot, I guess, unless you count personal satisfaction. If you want to be remembered, the memorial should be somewhere mortals can walk by and say, "I wonder who this Joelogon guy was," and then Ubergoogle you on their Omnitron or Transfinite or whatever digital data gizzie is in fashion.

I'm thinking something permanent, cheap, and probably pretty big. Not stadium big, but a couple feet across. Put it in an unobtrusive location, perhaps in a park making a donation is a good way to get something permanent, like a bench set up.

Riffing on the crack-head and the pawnshop idea, it should be made of something without a lot of intrinsic value -- so platinum is definitely out. I'm thinking German silver (60% copper, the rest nickel and zinc), but copper kind of dear lately, so I'm thinking of the material affectionately known as 'pot metal' (zinc and whatever other low-melting-point junk you have on hand this week).

If you do intend to bury, freeze or submerge your keepsake, I'm thinking heavy cast glass, maybe with a lot of lead. Cast it with your name cut through it. Not much eats glass; it's basically sand, so the hock-value would be nil.

I'm just sayin'...


pjaol said...

A status made out of AOL CD's....
Those things last forever, and funky in the sunlight, like the conference tables.

Joelogon said...

Perfesser -- was looking for something that would allow me to be remembered even if there was no one left to do the remembering -- say, a mere 10,000 years from now. With regard to park benches and what not -- who knows what real estate developers and such will do in 10 years, let along 10,000?

Joelogon said...

PJaol: From what I can tell, the longevity of plastics may vary; they may last, but not necessarily in one piece.

Anonymous said...

plootonium. which can be synthesized using a microwave oven and twinkies. google it.

Joelogon said...

Is that some sort of videogame reference I don't understand?