10K years

🌱 2022-10-06

In this 99percentinvisible episode, a group of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers are brought to the New Mexico desert in 1990. They are given an assignment. They have to come up with a way to communicate that this area is a nuclear zone. The catch, the meaning should survive 10000 years.

I found this a interesting look at a vast array of ideas — words, stories, cartoons. But, I think I agree with what might be the most radical solution presented. The only thing durable across 10K years is Culture. Proposed by two philosophers, Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri.

Bastide and Fabbri came to the conclusion that the most durable thing that humanity has ever made is culture: religion, folklore, belief systems. They may morph over time, but an essential message can get pulled through over millennia.  They proposed that we genetically engineer a species of cat that changes color in the presence of radiation, which would be released into the wild to serve as living Geiger counters. Then, we would create folklore and write songs and tell stories about these “ray cats,” the moral being that when you see these cats change colors, run far, far away.

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