jm + long-now   3

The 26,000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight at the Hoover Dam
This is amazing! I wish I'd noticed it when I visited Hoover Dam.
The center of the circle traced by the axial precession is actually the massive flag pole in the center of the plaza. This axial circle is prominently marked around the pole, and the angle of Polaris was depicted as precisely as possible to show where it would have been on the date of the dam’s opening. Hansen used the rest of the plaza floor to show the location of the planets visible that evening, and many of the bright stars that appear in the night sky at that location.

By combining planet locations with the angle of precession, we are able to pinpoint the time of the dam’s completion down to within a day. We are now designing a similar system — though with moving parts — in the dials of the 10,000 Year Clock. It is likely that at least major portions of the Hoover Dam will still be in place hundreds of thousands of years from now. Hopefully the Clock will still be ticking and Hansen’s terrazzo floor will still be there, even if it continues to baffle visitors.

(Via Tony Finch)
hoover-dam  history  precession  astronomy  long-now  polaris  vega  thuban  stars  clocks 
17 days ago by jm
The ultimate off-site backup

So assuming the mission continues well, in 2014 the Rosetta Probe will land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will measure the comet's molecular composition. Then it will remain at rest as the comet orbits the sun for hundreds of millions of years. So somewhere in the solar system, where it is safe but hard to reach, a backup sample of human languages is stored, in case we need one.

As jwz says: 'The Rosetta Disc is now safely installed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.'
rosetta  long-now  history  language  comets  solar-system  space 
october 2016 by jm
Photographs of Sellafield nuclear plant prompt fears over radioactive risk
"Slow-motion Chernobyl", as Greenpeace are calling it. You thought legacy code was a problem? try legacy Magnox fuel rods.
Previously unseen pictures of two storage ponds containing hundreds of highly radioactive fuel rods at the Sellafield nuclear plant show cracked concrete, seagulls bathing in the water and weeds growing around derelict machinery. But a spokesman for owners Sellafield Ltd said the 60-year-old ponds will not be cleaned up for decades, despite concern that they are in a dangerous state and could cause a large release of radioactive material if they are allowed to deteriorate further.

“The concrete is in dreadful condition, degraded and fractured, and if the ponds drain, the Magnox fuel will ignite and that would lead to a massive release of radioactive material,” nuclear safety expert John Large told the Ecologist magazine. “I am very disturbed at the run-down condition of the structures and support services. In my opinion there is a significant risk that the system could fail.
energy  environment  nuclear  uk  sellafield  magnox  seagulls  time  long-now 
october 2014 by jm

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