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1000 year power source for design?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Hank, Jun 7, 2004.

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  1. Hank

    Hank Guest

    So...say I want to design a small sealed device, maybe dry nitrogen filled, that
    will play back a message after remaining dormant for 500 to 1000 years.

    First, is this remotely possible? I know that flash memories have 100 year
    retention...are those numbers conservative?

    Are there any reactions in the doped silicon or solders that would prevent
    operation after that length of time?

    Would ceramic or tantalum capacitors be suitable for that length of time? (I am
    guessing electrolytics would be a no go)

    What type of power source could be used? Perhaps a magnet/wire wind up
    generator (do rare earth magnets lose their magnetism over vast lengths of
    time?), solar cell, battery with electrolyte held separate by a mechanical

    This is mostly just a thought experiment, but I think it would be interesting to
    bury a time capsule with sound clips and voice, and know that it may one day be
    dug up in the far future...perhaps even by some varient of the human race who
    thinks it is magic. How funny would that be to know my device is worshipped as
    a god being 1000 years from now, lol.
  2. Ian Stirling

    Ian Stirling Guest

    A sealed battery should be just the ticket.
    I suspect some of the ones on the shelf would probably be adequate.
    It's not horribly complex to make one, just basically a jar with a
    couple of plates in, and a breakable vial of electrolyte.
    Shelf life should be at least several tens of thousands of years.
    Probably a good idea to nitrogen fill it.
  3. Tim Wescott

    Tim Wescott Guest

    This would be an interesting science project to find the answers.

    I suspect that solder will be OK, but that's just extrapolating from the
    ancient radios I work with. I have no idea about the silicon, but with
    no current running through it'll probably be OK, too.

    I suspect that you'd want to use older, large-geometry parts. Since
    EPROM and EEPROM (including flash) all use charge storage I would expect
    them to be erased by radiation over time. I'd use PROMs if they could
    still be found.

    I think your windup generator would be a good idea -- but how do you
    keep in mechanically sound? Probably the most reliable battery would be
    a wet cell with directions "pour salt water in here" -- something like
    the ones they used in torpedoes. A solar cell would be good, too.
  4. Julie

    Julie Guest

    Why limit yourself to 1000 years and electronics? If you want a truly durable
    solution that isn't really susceptible to degradation problems w/ solder,
    silicone, discharge, etc., go w/ a mechanical solution.

    A simple clockwork phonograph w/ a cylinder (like the first types of
    phonographs) for the recording (all stainless steel) would last tens or
    hundreds of millennia, if not longer.

    Electronics aren't the solution to everything -- when designing for extreme
    requirements, think outside the box.
  5. Hank

    Hank Guest

    I was under the impression that electronics would be easier than a mechanical
    solution. I can buy all the electronic parts from digikey for about
    $30....where am I going to get a stainless steel cylinder recording device for
    the same amount???

    The electronic solution could also survive huge shocks (50G seems to come to
    mind as acceptable for most chips?). I wonder if the needle on the phonograph,
    much less the phonograph itself would survive such accelerations?

    Good idea though. Certainly I have a pocket watch from ~1810 that still runs
    perfectly...and that is not sealed in anything. Of course it has a couple of
    repair tickets in the back of it from the late 1800s...
  6. Julie

    Julie Guest

    Definitely easier to do w/ electronics, however I'd still be concerned about
    the longevity, especially w/ OTS parts like that.

    With silicon, if it breaks, it is all over -- the recording is lost and I doubt
    that it could be restored, regardless of the technology, who knows though.

    With a purely mechanical solution, the entire mechanism could be destroyed, but
    barring the physical destruction of *all* the recording grooves, some or all of
    the recording would be intact and could be simply retrieved by a civilization
    w/ 1800's technology.
    True -- you could 'park' the needle.

    Further, I'm thinking of the thing looking more like a windup musicbox
    mechanism, so I'd suspect that it would be pretty tolerant to g-shocks.

    Anyway, it sounds like a fun project regardless of the implementation.
  7. Photocells, sunnshine will likely be there a thousand years from now.
    Write on it (but will they be able to understand English, better also use German and French Chinese and Russian, Spanish too)

    And, data retention is not that long for flash and EPROM, so you need core memory,
    or program a PROM (fuses).
    A vinyl record with spring motor will also work.
    The text should then be:
  8. Hank

    Hank Guest

    I guess it really begs another topic of discussion: "Could most evidence of
    modern technology be wiped out in just 1000 years?"

    I guess I really doubt it. Even if a shoemaker-levy size event were to happen
    to the earth, I have to think that quite a bit of technology would survive the
    years even if civilization almost vanished. There would still be usb drives
    with pirated music, handhelds, cell phones...all sorts of devices. It is
    actually quite funny in most of the sci fi movies how little of modern
    technology remains after a few thousand years....

    So much of our culture and history has been recorded on so many different types
    of media...I guess there is little liklihood that all of it would not survive
    but my little device would. :)
  9. Hank

    Hank Guest

    German and French Chinese and Russian, Spanish too)
    Proms are a good idea...can you still get proms? :)

    Hmm, this reminds me of an import lathe I purchased which had english
    instructions which read: "DO NOT PLACE LATHE IN PLACE WHERE SUN DON'T SHINE"

  10. Julie

    Julie Guest

    vinyl = bad idea -- warps, decomposes, etc. *way* too easily. Stainless steel
    would probably be the most suitable (low cost) medium.

  11. You're sure that the reader understands the written message ?
    The language I kown, developped that much during the last
    millenium, you'd not recognize them anymore.
    Some pictograms could be of more help, I guess.

  12. CFoley1064

    CFoley1064 Guest

    Subject: Re: 1000 year power source for design?
    Indeed. Actually, this is already prior art. When NASA was building the first
    space probes to leave the solar system (Pioneer and Voyager), they designed a
    gold-plated copper recording disk which had various sounds of Earth. They
    expect it will last at least 40,000 years in a vaccuum (minimum time to the
    closest solar system on that trajectory). Here's a link. Also, go to the NASA
    main site, and look up "Voyager sound recording" or "Message in a Bottle" on
    NASA Search.

    Good luck
  13. Hank

    Hank Guest

    Isn't it rather sad to think that a gold-plated copper recording disk could have
    whizzed by us as little as 30-40 years ago and been undetected? Actually, I am
    not sure at what distance a voyager sized craft would have to pass earth to be
    detected with today's technology. I am guessing it has to pass pretty dang

    I am going to guess that a civilization that could detect the craft and decode
    the recording disk probably would pick up earth radio waves many thousands of
    years prior to voyager's arrival???
  14. Terry Given

    Terry Given Guest

  15. Julie

    Julie Guest

    Ya -- that was the impetus for my 'idea'.
  16. Colubris

    Colubris Guest

    I like the idea of going mechanical. One major issue would be how to
    preserve the setup through earthquakes, ice ages, nuclear warfare,
    various religious crusades, etc - but in a location that will be found

  17. You are right, but this thing would serve an other purpose too:
    Stone of Rozetta (think it was), that Napoleon found had both Greek and Egypt
    hyroglyps (spelling wrong likely), and allowed them to decypher the Egyptian texts.
    A pic of a human turning a handle would indeed be cool.
    For the apes that will live there in that time (planet of the apes).....
    Burry the thing where they find the statute of liberty in the end...
  18. Ken Taylor

    Ken Taylor Guest

  19. mike

    mike Guest

    If you had done this 1000 years ago, which language would you have used?
    The "engineered" virus that killed us all off probably won't be speaking
    your language 1000 years from now. The electronics may be the least of
    your worries. ;-)

    Return address is VALID.
    Bunch of stuff For Sale and Wanted at the link below.
    Toshiba & Compaq LiIon Batteries, Test Equipment
    Yaesu FTV901R Transverter, 30pS pulser
    Tektronix Concept Books, spot welding head...
  20. Fuses could grow back too, I think. Maybe PROMs with ECC?

    What about 100,000 years?
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