• A version of the "Rosetta Disk" that contains more than 1,000 human languages in just over two centimeters of space is now available in necklace form for $1,000.
• Given the fragility of modern recording mediums like books or electronics, projects like this are vital if we want to ensure that today's knowledge reaches future generations.
Language as Treasure
One of the most significant anthropological finds of human existence was the 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The stone made it possible to understand the language of ancient cultures, giving us insight that would have been impossible to achieve otherwise.
Given the fragile means by which we currently store information, future civilizations may not be as fortunate. However, efforts are being undertaken to provide a similar, though much more detailed, artifact. And to further one-up the ancient competition, the people behind those efforts are looking to make as many copies as possible to increase the chances of the artifact surviving for millennia to come.
The Long Now Foundation is dedicated to delivering this tool to future intelligent life. The first phase of their project resulted in what they dubbed a Rosetta Disk. The disk contains more than 13,000 pages of content written in more than 1,500 human languages with each page of information only the width of five human hairs. The information etched onto the disc can be read by using a standard microscope capable of a 650x zoom.
The project’s next phase involves scaling down the disc to a wearable form. The foundation is offering a smaller disc featuring 1,000 languages, which measures in at two centimeters (.79 inches). It’s available as a necklace that can be purchased for the price of a lifetime membership to the foundation: $1,000.
The durability of stone is a major reason the information contained on the Rosetta Stone was preserved. Modern technology, whether in the form of the pages of a book or the digital realm, does not share that same characteristic.
Other means of information storage are also being explored. Researchers have discovered ways to etch the entirety of human history into quartz, which can last fourteen billion years. Diamonds can be used to forge indestructible information vessels as well.
Preserving the knowledge of today is a great way to ensure the innovation of tomorrow. We have learned so much from our ancestors and need to be able to give future beings the same luxury.