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JUNGE, HEIKO/AFP/Getty Images
JUNGE, HEIKO/AFP/Getty Images

Norway's New Doomsday Vault Is Designed to Store Data for Eternity

JUNGE, HEIKO/AFP/Getty Images
JUNGE, HEIKO/AFP/Getty Images

When the apocalypse comes, the Svalbard islands of Norway might hold the only surviving vestiges of human civilization. The Arctic archipelago is home to the Global Seed Vault, an 11,000-square-foot underground repository (seen above) that preserves hundreds of thousands of seeds from all over the world in case of a catastrophic plant extinction. Now, a new kind of vault has opened up next door in a former coal mine that belongs to the Norwegian government, as Gizmodo reports.

The Arctic World Archive is designed to hold data, not seeds, storing historical and sensitive information on micrographic film created by Piql, a Norwegian preservation company. The film is then stored in a physical box deep in the vault, designed to be retrieved and read by anyone in the future, even if the original technology used to read and write the file (say, a PDF) is no longer in use. It’s a highly secure library designed to keep certain documents and data available for the foreseeable future, through whatever environmental disasters, cybersecurity attacks, or world wars might come in the next 500 to 1000 years.

In one of its brochures for the archive, Piql argues that keeping an analog version of important documents in a remote place is necessary in today’s digital world:

In a world threatened with more and more cyber attacks, digital espionage, data manipulation and electronic warfare, having valuable and critical information stored on a system independent of specific technologies and kept in a secure and safe location becomes more and more relevant.

The Arctic World Archive is an offline data vault that ensures the most sensitive and irreplaceable data to be protected for the future. Located in a disaster-proof vault, the information is kept in permafrost conditions far away from political and physical instabilities in the rest of the world.

While the files can be read online, the physical film can only be accessed by ordering it to be brought up from inside the vault. The microfilm cannot be overwritten, so whatever was first recorded on it cannot be manipulated by anyone who subsequently handles it.

The pace of technology moves at such a rapid clip that even data created a few decades ago might be largely unreadable to the public—how do you retrieve data from a floppy disc when no computers have those drives anymore? The idea here is that this micrographic film (Piql representatives describe it like QR codes written on film) will be able to outlast the original technology used to create the file. It’s the 21st century equivalent of carving runes onto stone.

The Brazilian and Mexican governments have already put copies of their constitutions and other historic national documents—some dating back to the 16th century—in the archive.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
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Jeff Bezos Is Helping to Build a Clock Meant to Keep Time for 10,000 Years
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo

Few human inventions are meant to last hundreds of years, much less thousands. But the 10,000 Year Clock is designed to keep accurate time for millennia. First proposed in 1989, the long-lasting timepiece is finally being installed inside a mountain in western Texas, according to CNET.

The organization building the clock, the Long Now Foundation, wanted to create a tribute to thinking about the future. Founded by computer scientist Danny Hillis and Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand, the group boasts famous members like musician Brian Eno and numerous Silicon Valley heavyweights. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is putting up the $42 million necessary to complete the project, writing that “it's a special Clock, designed to be a symbol, an icon for long-term thinking."

Measuring 500 feet tall when it's completed, the clock will run on thermal power and synchronize each day at solar noon. Every day, a “chime generator” will come up with a different sequence of rings, never repeating a sequence day to day. On specific anniversaries—one year, 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years—it will animate a mechanical system within one of five rooms carved into the mountain. On the first anniversary, for instance, the clock will animate an orrery, a model of the solar system. Since they don’t expect to be alive for many of the future anniversaries, the clock’s creators won't determine animations for 100, 1000, or 10,000 years—that'll be left up to future generations. (To give you an idea of just how far away 10,000 years is, in 8000 B.C.E., humans had just started to domesticate cows for the first time.)

Though you can sign up to be notified when the clock is finished, it won’t be easy to see it up close. The nearest airport is several hours’ drive away, and the mountain is 2000 feet above the valley floor. So you may have to be content with seeing it virtually in the video below.

Clock of the Long Now - Installation Begins from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

[h/t CNET]

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Tynker
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Barbie Is Now Giving Coding Lessons
Tynker
Tynker

Mattel wants to help 10 million kids learn to code by 2020, and the toy giant is enlisting one of its most career-focused assets: Barbie. According to Engadget, Mattel is working with the coding education company Tynker to make seven Barbie-themed computer programming lessons.

Barbie has been a pilot, an architect, the president, and a computer engineer, so there may be no better character to teach kids the joys of coding. The lessons, arriving in summer 2018, will be designed for youngsters in kindergarten and up, and will teach Barbie-lovers more than just how to make apps. They’ll use Barbie’s many careers—which also included veterinarian, robotics engineer, and astronaut—as a way to guide kids through programming concepts.

An illustration depicts Barbie and her friends surrounded by cats and dogs and reads 'Barbie: Pet Vet.'

A screenshot of a Barbie coding lesson features a vet's office full of pets.

There are plenty of new initiatives that aim to teach kids how to code, from a Fisher-Price caterpillar toy to online games featuring Rey from Star Wars. This is the third partnership between Mattel and Tynker, who have already produced programming lessons using Hot Wheels and Monster High.

Kindergarten may seem a little soon to set kids on a career path as a computer programmer, but coding has been called “the most important job skill of the future,” and you don’t need to work for Google or Facebook to make learning it worthwhile. Coding can give you a leg up in applying for jobs in healthcare, finance, and other careers outside of Silicon Valley. More importantly for kids, coding games are fun. Who wouldn’t want to play Robotics Engineer Barbie?

[h/t Engadget]

All images by Tynker

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