Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock, Tick, Toc…

February 16th, 2012

Building a clock that will run for 10,000 years requires you to try to anticipate problems other clocks just don't face:

Notes taken during [a colloquium on the Long Now Foundation's plans to ensure that the 10,000-Year Clock keeps time despite long-term variations in the length of a day] show that, while the technical success of the Clock's durability is yet to be determined, its ability to inspire long-term thinking is already taking hold:

Neil deGrasse Tyson jested that the Long Now should put some signage on the 10,000 Year Clock so that a post-apocalyptic Earth will not think that the world will end when the clock stops working.

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Not forgotten

April 9th, 2011

Tsunami-hit towns forgot warnings from ancestors:

Modern sea walls failed to protect coastal towns from Japan's destructive tsunami last month. But in the hamlet of Aneyoshi, a single centuries-old tablet saved the day.

"High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants," the stone slab reads. "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point." […]

I'm not sure "forgot" is the word. More like "chose not to heed", I think.

[Via The Long Now Blog]

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Shouldn't that read '0002009'?

November 1st, 2009

The work of White Elephant Design's Lava Project is set fair to be puzzling geologists for many, many millennia to come.

[Via The Long Now Blog]

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Bruce Sterling’s Sharp Warning

August 10th, 2008

I somehow missed Bruce Sterling’s take on The Clock of the Long Now when it was first published eight years ago:

One extremely effective method of cheap, lasting timelessness comes immediately to mind. We might call this the "Now He Belongs to the Ages" syndrome.  In other words, some dead people. Live people are very unhappy and uneasy about disturbing graveyards. A newly established cathedral becomes accepted by the public when it begins burying the community. Cathedrals also make do with the relics of saints: holy shinbones and skulls, and so on.


[Let…] me offer another strikingly morbid alternative: the tontine.

What is a tontine? Well, the tontine was invented by an Italian banker named Lorenzo Tonti, as a kind of seventeenth-century New Economy investment scheme. A group of investors starts a mutual fund. They get dividends from the investments. Every time someone in the tontine dies, their share gets split up among the surviving members. Until finally, the last guy standing inherits everything. Interestingly, this tontine process was often used in France to fund public buildings.

In our case, of course, the Long Now Clock is always the last guy standing. Always. So a Long Now Clock tontine survives by measuring out people’s lifespans. When they perish, their chunk of the money is given to maintain the clock. I would strongly urge that the members of the tontine be buried on the site of the Clock. Or at least, they should memorialized on it on some very public, macabre, memento-mori way.

I guarantee that it would sober up trendy gawkers immediately, if they saw this sinister device prepared to reap its way through ten thousand years of future humanity, scythe first. I would suggest seeding the project with a few dead guys, already attached to the clock at its first unveiling. The sincerity of this gesture speaks for itself. Because after all, the future is where we go to die. Some of us in the Long Now tontine would be very public about our intention to be immolated with this clock. As a further spice, there would be *secret* members of the Long Now tontine.

A "sinister device prepared to reap its way through ten thousand years of future humanity, scythe first." Brrr….

[Via Beyond the Beyond]

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