Million-year storage solution is set in stone

Jul 13, 2012 by Nancy Owano weblog
An uncut/rough yellow sapphire found at the Spokane Sapphire Mine near Helena, Montana. Image: Wikipedia.

(Phys.org) -- A sapphire hard disk can last one million years and resolve a problem worrying archaeologists. Thursday, Patrick Charton of the French nuclear waste management agency ANDRA, presented a way out of data storage problems, an information-engraved sapphire disk using platinum. The disk is being called the ultimate, if not ultimately unaffordable, HDD. The disk was announced at this week’s Euroscience Open Forum, a pan-European event drawing researchers, as a way to provide information for future archaeologists.

The solution is in the form of two thin disks of industrial sapphire, molecularly fused, with a thin layer of inscribed platinum. The disks were immersed in acid to test their durability and to simulate aging.

With the sapphire disk, up to 40,000 miniaturized pages of text or images etched can be inscribed in the . The information would be read with microscope.

A key application would be as a solution for how future societies will be able to identify areas of buried nuclear waste. Nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste that needs to be safely stored for up to one million years. Once a disposal method is determined, future societies will need to know where the waste is buried. According to Science magazine. Finland, France, and Sweden are the furthest advanced in the process of finding a geologically suitable site. While designers of such repositories are confident the waste can be buried safely, the fear is that future may dig in t he wrong places. Markers would be a way to allow them to know the sites where they should not dig.

With a disk, the warning message could be encoded into varied forms of written human communication, including words, pictograms, and diagrams, and in turn linguists and artists are involved in the project. The researchers say thus far they have no idea what language to use.

Another application is seen is as a Rosetta Stone to preserve the wealth of knowledge that humans have accumulated. The prototype shown costs $30,000 to make.

Euroscience Open Forum is a meeting drawing scientists, researchers, policy makers, and the general public. Talks focus on the direction that research is taking in the sciences, humanities and social science.

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Papix
2.6 / 5 (10) Jul 13, 2012
Any future civilization would obviously have the necessary instrumentation to identify dangerous materials from a mile away. A better way to prevent digging in such places would be to leave a minute amount of the same radio active material in a degradable keeper close to the disastrous amount. That way they will know the site is not safe to dig in.
CapitalismPrevails
2.8 / 5 (13) Jul 13, 2012
Papix, why would you assume a future civilization would have the necessary instrumentation? If history is any indicator, civilizations rise and fall over thousands of years. A future civilization may not be advanced enough for any in depth nuclear knowledge. It may be in a post collapse environment.
baudrunner
2.5 / 5 (13) Jul 13, 2012
What I see is an uncut/rough yellow sapphire found at the Spokane Sapphire Mine near Helena, Montana. Prototype? What prototype?
gwrede
3.6 / 5 (14) Jul 13, 2012
They seem to assume that this future civilisation has powerful microscopes, and stumbles upon the idea to use them on some little piece of stone. At the same time they assume that this civilisation would not have invented a Geiger counter. And yet, they miraculously would understand English (or any other of the languages in the stone) or their "drawings" about the looming hazard beneath.

If they are humans like us, they'd decide that an ancient culture was superstitious and feared some Underground Phantom. And if they are not human (who's next? Chimps, Squirrels, Rats, Kangaroos? All of these have small hands already!), then we can just forget it. Just like I can't decipher the plaque on the Voyagers, or the radio message sent to space from Arecibo.
retrosurf
4.2 / 5 (6) Jul 13, 2012
Include the microscope and viewer with the disk.
Sapphire lenses are not hard to make.
This is a glorified, unpowered microfiche machine, a proven technology.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (12) Jul 13, 2012
Now we just need to write this stuff down in a language that will survive for that long. Given that there is hardly a language that has been around for a thousand years in any easily recognizable form (and none for ten thousand, let alone a hundred thousand - or even a million) that will be the real trick.
axemaster
5 / 5 (11) Jul 13, 2012
Seems like a waste of time. Any future civilization will know how to translate english into their future-language, just like we know how to translate Latin. And in any case, they'll be advanced enough to detect and handle the radiation without any issues.
PussyCat_Eyes
2.1 / 5 (14) Jul 13, 2012
Maybe they're going on the premise that humans of the distant future may no longer be civilized enough and will have retrogressed so much that all the advancements accumulated in this era will be lost. Some sci-fi stories have a small group of scientists who have survived a nuclear war who are trying to bring back civilization, despite horribly disfigured people whose intent it is, is to eat their brains. LOL
irjsiq
2.6 / 5 (10) Jul 13, 2012
Some years back there was talk of a 'nuclear priesthood'. What is the status of that idea/concept?
Speaking with an engineer, who worked in nuclear plants for most of his career, advised me that the Waste from the Manhattan Project remains in 'temporary storage' . . . and despite Billions upon Billions of Dollars the Nuclear Industry has 'taxed to the government to search for a 'permanent storage solution' . . . Presently, there is no money and there is No Solution, Congress just urinated the money away, as they did with Social Security Trust Funds/monies.

Roy J Stewart,
Phoenix AZ
Silverhill
3.9 / 5 (11) Jul 13, 2012
Nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste that needs to be safely stored for up to one million years.
No. After only 600 years, the waste will be no more radioactive than the uranium ore that it ultimately came from, and no one is clamoring to have old uranium mines sealed for a million years.
Why not store the worst stuff in played-out uranium mines?
mrcoldheart
4 / 5 (4) Jul 13, 2012
I'm going to have to side with the naysayers on this story but not for the same reasons.

I million years is way beyond any assumptions we may have about future societies and I don't mean that to say "humanity" won't be here.

This could be a clever way to appear responsible in light of what should be unacceptable.

I don't think it's in the science communities best interest to promote gift wrapping our problems for the future generations to solve.
ormondotvos
2 / 5 (8) Jul 13, 2012
Dontcha get tired of the Nuclear Nellies and their scare tactics, since there are SO much better killers to worry about, like coal, disease, war, starvation, etc. Million years, yeah right. In a million years, maybe education will have advanced to the psychological realm, and we'll be without Nervous Nellies...
mrcoldheart
3.7 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2012
To the 'person' that thinks my comment is a scare tactic.

You've got to be pretty dumb to think nuclear waste is less of a killer then anything you've mentioned.

a million years is too long of a time to wait for contaminated areas to become livable when it overlaps population and resources versus finite land mass.

I'm not saying nuclear energy isn't viable. We just need to redesign and rethink how we make reactors. When reactors with hundreds of tons of nuclear rods melt down and we don't currently have the technology to properly contain them in a worse case scenario then it becomes a pretty obvious design flaw.

To me it seems that the money spend on researching and developing this could have been spent on addressing the problem more directly.
Chap1
2.5 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2012
The Rosetta stone function seems most obvious for an "eternal" data storage device, after all, new technology and information will keep on accumulating ad infinitum if we do not decimate ourselves using the technology we are trying to warn the future about, to be careful of. If we do decimate the human race, we do not know which organism will replace us as mentioned in one of the comments above. Cockroaches seem the ones able to survive the nuclear holocaust if it should occur, and if that is the case, I would rather have them dig into the nuclear waste than prevent such an "accident"
alfie_null
5 / 5 (4) Jul 14, 2012
Cockroaches ... I would rather have them dig into the nuclear waste than prevent such an "accident"

Irradiating cockroaches - I've seen enough b flicks to know what happens next.
Noodle_Naut
2.5 / 5 (8) Jul 14, 2012
I think it is silly to think radioactive stuff is "waste". I think that is very temporary. Radioactivity is energy, it is just a mater of time before we retrieve the energy unless we dilute it in concrete chunks and other short sighted ways that potentially makes it less affordable to use than digging up new stuff.

As for recording information for long periods...I think the particular approach is kind of ineffective. Using platinum is not too smart as it is valuable and as soon as it is discovered they will raid all the sites to take the platinum. An if they have regressed, I doubt they would understand that there is microscopic information.

I would go with silicon carbide as the elements are not valuable and it will last a long time. Who cares if you can't write as much on each tablet, it may be large enough that they could actually read it.

And I would attach it to boulders or cave walls where it can't walk away very easy. Assuming, of course, any of this is necessary.

ipman
2.5 / 5 (8) Jul 14, 2012
Wow, now I get it! I first read comments on the Japanese electric road articles and thought wow how stupid these readers are to think that (in the comments section) you can extract more energy than the source of the energy. ie solar panel on car to recharge it, pressure generator on road to power the cars -some other car then must lose energy to charge the one taking it idiots! But, these comments take the cake. I understand why for articles are so dumbed down they often do not correspond to their titles... The disc is only a storage medium and the deployment is hypothetical as you cannot just bury it and hope it is dug up first before the radioactive cache since the discs are likely too small even compared to the caches! And as storage media the platinum would be nano scale thin and therefore would be no value to loot to the fool who thinks they would automatically be buried treasure without considering mass -the layer is like gold plate stupid would one steal cutlery for plating?
ipman
3 / 5 (4) Jul 14, 2012
As for the solution to not act a troll above, and I do agree the possibility of the comments near the top about rise and fall of civilizations especially say if preemptive nuclear war happens (such as Israel deciding to take out ALL its potential enemies and their progenitor alliances big and small once Iran manages to set off the first major surprise on them ie.causing chain-reaction to Russia) or another ice age/or asteroid hits earth in a big way in the face of complacency or human error (ie fail to cheaply steer away collisions and/or runaway climate change) to end up having a few survivors back to the stone age, here is one sol'n I offer. Build/launch en mass micro satelites with the data digital copies (in the case of the Rosetta Stone archive -simply use ALL languages so that at some point in their rise a future civilization or decifering alien has all the more 'heiroglyphs' to possibly decipher us. We have tech 2 make sats interactive -scan 4 passersby 2parachute ipods photos
ipman
4 / 5 (4) Jul 14, 2012
BTW Ipods" in comment above is metaphorical to the stupid literal types. Comment box so small so I abbrev'd the suggest'n of pendrive-sized milspec/'hardened' drones surfaced with visible LED SOS solar cell powered mini heli-rotors (like RC toys) stabilizing helium cartridge surface deployed hovering balloons containing pico projectors and speakers to play comprehensive videos, slideshow diagrams or CAD files, as well as A/V documentaries of past civilization with "SIRI"type AI agent to interact with where possible to warn,teach lifeforms/survivors on surface detected by the satelites orbiting which smartbomb these drones on their vicinity when they arise and are detected. Many microsats at higher and higher orbits all the way to outer orbit or beyond act as redundant active smart network to pass all time in case some are destroyed. Solar and designed to maneuver from threats or nano-replicate in future as robot autonomous satelites with the goal 2 scan for life but cloak in stealth
JGHunter
3 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2012
]No. After only 600 years, the waste will be no more radioactive than the uranium ore that it ultimately came from, and no one is clamoring to have old uranium mines sealed for a million years.
Why not store the worst stuff in played-out uranium mines?


Not that I don't believe you, but can you explain why the first sentence is so? I don't really grasp decay very well yet so I'm interested in learning this defense.
eachus
5 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2012
Not that I don't believe you, but can you explain why the first sentence is so? I don't really grasp decay very well yet so I'm interested in learning this defense.


Radioactive "waste" from nuclear reactors--at least the dangerous stuff--contains mostly actinides with short half-lives. The half-life of a radioactive substance is how long it takes half of the atoms to decay. You start with fuel with half lives of millions of years, depending on the original fuel mix.

The high-level of radioactivity comes from atoms with short half lives (less than a decade). The actinides are part of a decay chain which will go through a half-dozen or more decays before stopping at lead.

Computing the overall radioactivity of the waste is therefore pretty complex. After 600 years it is down to the level of the original mined uranium.

Also not mentioned is that the neutron emitters decay first. The long decay chains involve alpha and beta particles that can be stopped by a sheet of paper.
PussyCat_Eyes
2.2 / 5 (10) Jul 14, 2012
How about a sign with a simple skull and crossed bones on it and an arrow below it that points to the radioactive site. The sign can be made out of anything, but slices of granite would be cheaper. Skull and bones says it all and isn't that complicated, IMO.

http://en.wikiped...cay_heat

http://en.wikiped...uel_pool

http://www.ucsusa...uel.html

Radioactive spent fuel rods still produce heat. Why isn't that heat being utilized instead of left to cool down in water? It's a waste of usable energy.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2012
Radioactive spent fuel rods still produce heat. Why isn't that heat being utilized instead of left to cool down in water? It's a waste of usable energy.
Still too lazy to look stuff up for yourself I see.
http://en.wikiped...ocessing
Tewk
3 / 5 (4) Jul 14, 2012
I suggest they include the greatest issues of "JUGGS" magazine.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 14, 2012
Radioactive spent fuel rods still produce heat. Why isn't that heat being utilized instead of left to cool down in water? It's a waste of usable energy.
Still too lazy to look stuff up for yourself I see.
http://en.wikiped...ocessing
- theghostofotto1923

Yup....Me, lazy.......You, crazy
Your Wikepedia link has a lot of holes in it. Read the disclaimer first before you post, Blotto
I wasn't referring to "reprocessing" of spent fuel rods to extract plutonium, uranium and other good stuff from the pellets.
I was referring to the usable HEAT emitted by the radioactive fuel rods ON SITE as their radioactivity slowly decays in the cooling pool water. It is heat gone to waste. At the very least, that heat could be used to provide warmth to the external buildings with a heat exchanger system that is lead-shielded. In other words, Blotto, the hot water from the pool could be pumped through lead-shielded pipes to heat other buildings, then recirculated
PussyCat_Eyes
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 14, 2012
(contd)
through a refrigerated system to cool the water and bring it back to the pool again to cool down the rods, which will heat the water again, etc.
ipman
2.5 / 5 (6) Jul 14, 2012
Hello Pussycat, we already waste heat in fossil power plants and everywhere else in industry as a precedent. Cost!! That piping is not free (nor the interest on getting an even bigger loan to install it) and not a tax deduction either thanks to political priorities. Moreover, the lead needs to be damn thick for the radiation, while that adds cost to the reactor to now have another heat exchanger that must be made to top safety standards with overcompensation for liability issues/insurance. Meanwhile, do you know anyone that lives or works near a reactor? Nuff said, there is a reason to put a reactor far from habitation or other buildings -in case of emergency/malfunctions,meltdown, etc. Think of the liability if even your idea was not ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY MORONIC;) Stick to reading comic books, even this tabloid of a science for kids site is way too much for your undeveloped intellectual ability IMHO. No offense, BTW. Keep trying, dear:)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 14, 2012
I was referring to the usable HEAT emitted by the radioactive fuel rods ON SITE as their radioactivity slowly decays in the cooling pool water.
Well did you do some research on your own to find out why this is a particularly IDIOTIC idea?
Meanwhile, do you know anyone that lives or works near a reactor?
I assume pussy thinks fuel rods will be installed in secondary facilities within metropolitan centers. For what would reactor complexes need with more heat?

Hey I see p/r/r/p has created sockpuppets for self-uprating. How pathetic.
barakn
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2012
No. After only 600 years, the waste will be no more radioactive than the uranium ore that it ultimately came from, and no one is clamoring to have old uranium mines sealed for a million years.
Why not store the worst stuff in played-out uranium mines?

Perhaps you don't count the Navajo as being people? Whatever your motivation, you are quite simply wrong. http://yosemite.e...Document
PussyCat_Eyes
2 / 5 (8) Jul 14, 2012
@ipman
I see you are an expert on heat transfer, so thank you for your input and your infinite patience with my amateurish attempts. And what did you think of my "skull and crossbones" idea?

As to the lie being put out by blotto regarding my making sock puppets, I have none. I don't feel a need to do sock puppets for any reason at all. I've only got this one name and that's all I need. So that makes "theghostofotto1923" a lying S.O.B., as well as suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. He has many sock puppets for his multi-personalities and that's why he believes everyone else must have them also.
PussyCat_Eyes
2 / 5 (8) Jul 14, 2012
Oh BTW....theghostofotto1923 hates to be proven wrong in any discussion....so do make a brave attempt at agreeing with everything he says....so that you can avoid being called a "carking dimwit" or worse...LOL
PussyCat_Eyes
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 14, 2012
@ipman
welcome to Phys.org. I see that you just registered today.(July 14)
Are you a sock puppet of mine, ipman?
PussyCat_Eyes
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 14, 2012
How sweet.....I see that theghostofotto1923 has made a NEW sock puppet just to downvote me with ones. To " lite "....welcome to blotto's Phys.org where he reigns supreme.
oooops....almost forgot that " lite " IS blotto. LOL
ipman
3 / 5 (4) Jul 14, 2012
Meow! Cool, but skull and crossbone sign might be taken for shamanic totem or even a tombstone necessitating archeological discovery for any curious... And, they might get buried over time as most ruins are susceptible -that's why an active system from above to warn those below and spot them to smart-drop over Rosetta archives on time makes more sense than passive media that will itself be buried over long periods if soil displacement from winds or overgrowth as say the Mayan/Anchor temples where vegetation can form canopy -climate and tectonic rearrangement can subject even barren lands to future vegetation cover as climate changes for a place over ages. Physical signage of any kind ill conceived; moot.

Im getting the gist of this rag. This is a comedy forum come mainly to laugh. I have never found science alone funny over merely fascinating before. Now you can enjoy light reading science news and have a nice laugh on the same page right after in the comments section for dessert;)
PussyCat_Eyes
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 14, 2012
You could be right about the bones....but what about the skull and bones INSIDE a circle with a line drawn through the circle...I think you know what I mean.
;)

Here's something for you.
http://gizmodo.co...-reactor
ipman
3.6 / 5 (5) Jul 15, 2012
Hmmm, sounds gothic... Oh wait, are you making a pass at me;? In a circle it would look less like a totem pole, but if it gets covered up or erodes over time from say sandblasting by desert winds even if it is on a very tall sign (especially granite) I think it would still make primitives curious if they do not acquire the cultural relativity of our death symbolism -but I think just shielding the waste think in steel, etc. will keep out primitives but it costs more for plan cheapskates who are just trying to save a buck and say they tried to do something mitigating the landfill hazard. Bean-counters I'm afraid will be the doom of this generation, Kitty! Winky wink...
PussyCat_Eyes
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 15, 2012
yes....of course I'm making a pass at you...LOL
But I have to behave myself and be a good girl.....well, maybe a little naughty is OK :)

My parents have this old movie called, "The Time Machine" starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimeo.
The story is about a scientist who invents a time machine that goes to the distant future where there's nobody left except all these blonde-haired young people, and the Morlocks, who live underground. They're also cannibals. Anyway, the scientist comes to a building with double doors. Above the doors is a sculpture of a Morlock head, if I remember correctly.
That might be a good warning....no, on second thought, it would be just like the skull and bones inside the circle. It would be too tempting to go inside and look around.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 15, 2012
ipman...how great is the possibility that within a million years, other planets in our solar system would be colonized by humans, and all that will be left on earth are robot caretakers who will clean up and get the earth ready for the return of humans (by that time, they will be known as Martians, Europans, Titans, etc.) Self-replicating intelligent robots could be a dangerous thing. I just watched, "I, Robot' starring Will Smith. AI is on the way. Maybe an AI can be programmed to warn people of the future away from radioactive areas?
PussyCat_Eyes
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 15, 2012
@ipman

J/K...I wasn't making a pass at you
http://en.wikiped...Robotics

The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or Three Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov and later added to. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround", although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2012
@barakn:
Why not store the worst stuff in played-out uranium mines?
Perhaps you don't count the Navajo as being people? Whatever your motivation, you are quite simply wrong.
Eh? Who said anything about not valuing the Navajo? Heretofore I didn't know that so much uranium underlay the Navajo nation, but so what? Those mines are not the only ones that could be used.

Also, if the waste must be simply entombed instead of "burned" for additional energy via accelerators, then use a combination of vitrification plus cladding with materials such as concrete, stainless steel, and Teflon. As corrosion-resistant as possible, and located well below any aquifer.

@ipman:
skull and crossbone sign might be taken for shamanic totem or even a tombstone necessitating archeological discovery for any curious...
Or, as I read in another article, "Keep out!" signs might be taken to mean "There is great treasure here!" and induce greedy people to dig into it.
ipman
3 / 5 (2) Jul 15, 2012
Well...PussyCat, I think most of the solar system planets are way too inhospitable for people to plan to make colonies for any sake of using their natural resources. That said, starships with or without esoteric propulsion definitely make sense AND would be fun! Why stay on a planet when you can visit the holodeck (Star Trek style which is not far away tech-wise)? Nanotech eventually/soon does away with the need for NEW natural resources -too long to explain in this box as well it and conventional tech will clean our planet up right after our greedy-ass generation (or rather babyboomers:(so all destruction events will not b gradual in the 1st place! Just big blow-off of steam in this here pressure cooker in contemporary terms! Al at milspec can do what you wanted already. But cost determines success in our Romanesque world -not quality,longevity nor even creativity/generativity. A million years is a LONG time! We will be beyond the solar system just for the adventure of it NOT 4escape
Bookbinder
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2012
Why would Morlocks want a yellow sapphire?
PussyCat_Eyes
1.9 / 5 (8) Jul 15, 2012
Oh yes...the fantastic adventures of going out into the cosmos...exploring new worlds and acclimating to new environs...it would be nice to be alive then and see all that. I think we were born too early, ipman. In my next reincarnation, I want to be a starship captain...500 years should do it. How about you?
ipman
2.3 / 5 (4) Jul 15, 2012
Yes I have read most of Isaac Asimov's books when I was a teenager as well as other Sci Fi to the kazoo -too bad I never matured;) But, you ARE astute in fact KittjKat! Nighty night got to go out now;) Too bad the movie was not so great -with Will Smith:) Your understanding of science is MAINLY afflicted by poor understanding of engineering and economics which are in fact related (as everything I guess?). Esoteric technologies are possible(!) but the current cadre of men working on problems must play by asinine rules to raise capital to make them reality -I am an architect on a calibre with Steve Jobs meaning I know WHAT can be made and HOW to do it realistically but I am not a white man so there lies problems(!) -I'm not willing to play second banana for the foot in the door to be a bit player in the play! We do live in Roman times now controlled alas by non&philistines so this house of cards might need to come to an end BEFORE we see the light of innovation from the silent majority
Osiris1
1 / 5 (2) Jul 15, 2012
Who knows what 'languages' will be in use a 'million years' from now. Why not a billion years, given the billiousness of the asserverations coming out of the nuclear critic/economic saboteur industry. Point is: a million years is a realllly loooong time; no structure housing anything has been found really intact for even a few thousand years; not to mention loooters! The pyramids, built circa 10,500 BC by a culture predating Pharoanic Egyptians who only redecorated them, have stood for only a hundredth as long as a 'million yarns' and just LOOK at them! And there are others in Europe, in former Yugoslavia, maybe even older. Almost all the discovered structures from departed cultures have been looted. Many of the languages these people spoke or even wrote are gibberish to us. This 'disk's broken pieces might add a bit of glitter in the jewelry of a post apocalyptic aboriginal, say 100K years from now when all our works are faded into the nothingness of forgotten legend.
ShotmanMaslo
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 15, 2012
I think its pretty pointless to plan for million year waste storage when there are reactors that can burn current nuclear waste (or should I say fuel?) and the resulting waste is safe after just 300 years. Long-term storage of LWR waste is a misguided approach, costly and ultimately dangerous for our distant ancestors. We need to reprocess the waste and burn it in waste burning reactors, thus killing two birds with one stone - neutralising the waste's long term radioactivity, and making lots of carbon free energy in the process. Its really a no brainer.

G. Monbiot - A Waste of Waste:
http://www.monbio...f-waste/
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 15, 2012
Is it too much to ask not to produce stuff we don't know how to get rid off (at least in our own lifetimes)?

I don't care how good we can store this stuff or how well we can label it so that future generations don't accidentally trip over it (or suddenly find their drinking water irradiated by some leaky containers)

When you go into the bathroom you don't leave a turd for the next one to clean up (or choke on). Especially if the next ones are your children and grandchildren.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 15, 2012
@ipman
I have loved Asimov, Frederick Pohl, Ray Bradbury, Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinein. Theodore Sturgeon and several others whose names I can't remember. I ate up their stories and envisioned myself living in the future eras in which their stories take place. I started reading them at the age of 11. My Dad has a nice collection of hard cover books, so I borrow them a lot.
Asimov is my favorite author of robotics stories. I mention this because I believe that for our descendants to live on other planets, they will have to be transformed biologically - half human and half machine.
Somehow, I don't think it would be wise to give intelligence to a purely mechanical robot, unless it's main duties are to clean house and cook dinner.something simple. "I, Robot" is a good example of something gone wrong, but if you notice, the Will Smith character is part robot with a mechanical arm, shoulder and some ribs. Part human, part machine is what Robotics should strive for.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 15, 2012
(contd)
But that would also entail strict adherence to psychological, moral and ethical factors in determining who are the best candidates to become a semi-mechanical human. I think an entity like that might have special lungs made to breathe a different type of atmosphere on another world.
A purely mechanical robot for every radioactive dump on earth to warn away interlopers would be suitable, but for humans to survive on another planet that isn't exactly like earth.would require different mechanical lungs, heart and other organs that could take the strain of less or more gravity and less oxygen that the human body couldn't withstand. We are really so frail.

Anyway, a talking robot sentry who speaks all languages, standing in front of or near a dump should take care of future archaeologists and other snoops. They can be either self-maintained or sent to a special factory for routine maintenance....provided robotics technicians are available.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (9) Jul 15, 2012
Is it too much to ask not to produce stuff we don't know how to get rid off (at least in our own lifetimes)?
Yes. Not when it is essential to the continued progress of civilization. Which it is and has been. Fissionables are the most valuable material a civilization at our stage if development can possess. They will enable us to colonize the inner system. Future gens will thank us for our foresight.
I don't care how good we can store this stuff or how well we can label it so that future generations don't accidentally trip over it
We are polluting the planet with a LOT of things which are just as dangerous and just as persistent. Just look at the toxic dump pussy just took here in cyberspace. Who is going to clean THAT up?

Shotman is right, the tech exists and when it becomes more economical to mitigate waste rather than store it, then we probably will do so. Perhaps there are other anticipated Uses for it that we are not aware of.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 15, 2012
Yes....Blotto will look into his crystal ball to find the anticipated or UNanticipated uses for toxic waste. Blotto has all the answers for everything. All you unknowledgeable people can find whatever you wish to know from our resident oracle, theghostofblotto1923. Cyberspace is a big concern for blotto. It is his home and he defends it against all pussies, no matter what kind they are...LOL
He wants you to go to him to become enlightened.

He can also tell you all about circumcisions and clitoral mutilations. He's the expert.
KillerKopy
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 15, 2012
Why wouldn't they just put down a diagram on how to build a geiger counter. O, and how to brew beer also =)
wwqq
3 / 5 (2) Jul 16, 2012
Papix, why would you assume a future civilization would have the necessary instrumentation?


If you have the capability to dig half a kilometer through solid rock you can be presumed to have enough sense to not break into a nuclear waste container and mess with the contents. Standing next to it doesn't do anything; long-lived waste is almost entirely alpha emitters(AKA unburnt fuel).

If by sheer luck a low-tech society manages to find a single burried nuclear waste container, it is not the end of the world. They have far larger every-day problems just feeding and clothing themselves, not being murdered by the neighbouring tribe and warding off evil spirits(now known as infectious disease) than the worst mess they could conceivably create with its content even on a local level.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Jul 16, 2012
If you have the capability to dig half a kilometer through solid rock you can be presumed to have enough sense to not break into a nuclear waste container and mess with the contents.
People have been boring and mining to such depths for centuries.
ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (2) Jul 16, 2012
nice of them to plan the end of civilization and a reboot rather than its continuance
tadchem
not rated yet Jul 16, 2012
According to "Aluminum Oxide, Soluble Aluminum, and Coral Toxicity" (Batten and Lafayette) soluble aluminum is leached from aluminum oxide at either a pH less than 5.3 or a pH greater than 8.0, so these 'buried' waste sites had better remain dry.