Nova Spivack is the chairman of the Arch Mission Foundation. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization which has at its main aim the collection of all human knowledge and store it.
The Foundation, whose name is pronounced as in the word “archive” is looking for ways to etch the data in miniature onto substances like nickel and then store the information in ‘safe places’. However, they are not talking about bank vaults – their aim is to use the Moon or the Ocean floor.
There is a real need to preserve human achievements, be that in the arts or in science, for posterity. The history of the human race is currently stored on plastic or by using paper, but Arch Mission Foundation wants to look at a way of keeping all this heritage safe in a way which would not be erased in a catastrophic worldwide event.
Not only is there important information on human life, but there is also the question of many billions of years of evolution and the knowledge that yields to be protected too.
How will the information be protected?
The Foundation has developed a strategy they call the Billion Year Archive. This initiative takes archives and places them in a multitude of different locations that are unlikely to be disturbed by human beings – at least for the foreseeable future.
Placing these archives deep underground or in the ocean means that they would be preserved and protected for the long term, although eventually it is hoped that those who find the archives can utilize the knowledge contained therein to prevent making the same mistakes as those who came before.
How will those who discover the archives be able to use them? What if they can’t understand?
The archives are going to utilize visual learning by including many drawings and diagrams. The archive starts with those things that we take for granted and expands from there.
It will also provide linguistic keys for every language spoken on Earth and the entire library of human knowledge will be etched microscopically. Although there will be no need of a computer to read the etchings, the methods for building one will be included. This, in turn, will provide a lot more accessible information.
Are there any archives already in place?
The first test data set was sent into Space during the Elon Musk Space X mission. The data was etched in quartz and currently sits in the Tesla Roadster in orbit around the sun.
It is anticipated that the archive will be there for at least another 30 million years. The data set contained the Isaac Asimov Foundation trilogy, in honor of Asimov’s original idea to back up the history of human society that he wrote about in that series of books.
Another archive is in low-earth orbit – a Wikipedia was sent into space via a Chinese Rocket and there is further information currently in orbit around the sun located on the Parker Solar Probe. The Israeli SpaceIL Beresheet lander contains a Lunar Library. When it crashed on the moon the archive, the size of a normal DVD, landed too.
In the future it is scheduled for four more archives to be sent to the moon and that another will be on board a satellite to the Lagrange point located in between the Earth and Moon.
This point is where gravity equalizes so the satellite will stay in that location for a long period of time. It is anticipated that an interplanetary internet link will be built connecting the Earth, the Moon and Mars. The satellite will also contain a node for this internet.
Nova Spivack was inspired by his early love of space. He was born just before the first Apollo moon landing and his parents, inspired by space, decided to call him Nova. His mother would often tell him how she would nurse him while watching the landings on the moon.
As a small child he went to see the shuttle launched and that night had a dream where an archive was built and located across the solar system.
However, there have been challenges. Expense is a key factor, as is the huge amount of available data. However, some newer technologies have been utilized to reduce the amount of space needed to record the data, notably nickel nanofiche and quartz.
There is also a move towards molecular storage using DNA, however, this needs to be able to withstand radiation, heat and other difficult environments.
Humanity has a common heritage that everyone is a part of. From space is it impossible to see any differences between us but rather we are all part of one humanity where every race, culture, belief and tradition is equally valuable.