Nuclear waste lasts a long time, like super long. We're talking longer than all of recorded history by orders of magnitude. Right now, the only way we know how to deal with this waste is to bury it somewhere and put up a bunch of signs that say "there's a bunch of radioactive material here, so put away that shovel." The problem is, language changes over time. English from a mere 500 years ago is nearly indecipherable to anyone without a college degree. How do we tell people 10,000 years in the future to stay away, without dedicating the resources to constantly maintain these burial sites? What if we get sent back to the stone age by a meteor impact, massive pandemic, or nuclear holocaust? What then?
The Sandia Report gives 9 messages that need to be conveyed:
>This place is a message... and part of a system of messages... pay attention to it!
>Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
>This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.
>What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.
>The danger is in a particular location... it increases towards a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.
>The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.
>The danger is to the body, and it can kill.
>The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.
>The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.
Humans are notoriously curious, so it's rather difficult to keep them out of the metaphorical cookie jar. Especially when said cookie jar is filled with the curses of ancient gods. Written language is useless, as has been covered, and word of mouth is dodgy at best. So it's down to symbols to communicate the message of "bad, stay away." These range from fairly tame, like a grimacing human face, to badass, like so-called "hostile architecture" (pic related)
So, my question to you and the purpose of this thread is, what is YOUR solution to the problem of communicating danger to future civilizations? Or any other cool facts related to human use of nuclear energy and its repercussions
one thing for sure, i'd find a way to have videos and pictures of radiation victims to show "if you go over there, you'll look like this"
if we were somehow sent back to the stone age something like those spikes would be enough. all the primitive people would need to know is, seeing the mutants and having people who go there die is enough to deter them. the spikes are probably too much though, all there needs to be is a way to mark the location so they know the entire area is the same.
Why would we need to? Nuclear waste is produced from nuclear material, which itself comes out of the ground. If the original mines are not yet exhausted and ready to be refilled, just dig a big hole someplace undesirable and leave it there.
What makes anyone think the knowledge will be suddenly lost, will not be transferred or translated to the lingua franca of the proceeding eras, and will be enough of a concern that people will care more about buried nuclear material than other threats in the event of catastrophic collapse and loss of knowledge?
This is a neat linguistic exercise but not really relevant to any realistic prediction of the future
Kind of related, I was watching archaeologists excavate an old Roman town in England somewhere. It was live-streaming on the internet and they dug up the blacksmith and the air filled with lead fumes and they all had to leave and cancel the live stream.
I think that problems like these will sort themselves out. Say that theoretically all knowledge of the present is destroyed. The descendants of the survivors build their own primitive cultures, with traditions and taboos. People who dwell in radioactive locations will become sick and die. Stories of those peoples sickness will spread and locals will come to understand such a place as dangerous, cursed, etc.: a place to avoid. Rebellious idiots break the taboos and go there and die, and are a sacrifice to the survival of the traditions and thus to the society. And the cycle continues.
You can avoid the linguistic problem by image-idea rather then word-idea key pairs.
I would do something like this:
Put three of four statues of humans with waste
One where human is healthy, digging
One where he comes close the marked item
One where he is sick and close to death
They would go one taller than the other, or only be viewable in such a way that the sequence would be pretty clear. One other suggestion I've heard was to incorportate folk stories with clues to these dangerous places, but in my opinion people would forget the important details quite fast.