Scientists Are Building a “Black Box” to Record the End of Civilization

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"It’s built to outlive us all."

Apocalypse Cam

If — or when — human civilization collapses, what will remain? Maybe parts of some cities. Or the Statue of Liberty, a la “Planet of the Apes.” Overall, though, there might not be a lot of evidence left behind about what humanity accomplished — or what resulted in its downfall.

One team of researchers wants to change that. Their solution? A massive, indestructible box that’ll record scientific data to give future civilizations insight on how exactly humanity fell.

The project, dubbed Earth’s Black Box, will be an immense steel monolith installed in a remote location in Tasmania. It’s akin to the black boxes that are designed to survive airplane crashes and provide investigators valuable data on what led to the disaster — except on a planetary scale.

Indestructible Recorder

The project is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Tasmania, marketing agency Clemenger BBDO, and creative agency The Glue Society.

The team is designing the box to record climate data such as atmospheric CO2 levels, sea temperatures, and energy consumption levels. It’ll also gather contextual information like news headlines and social media posts.

“The idea is if the Earth does crash as a result of climate change, this indestructible recording device will be there for whoever’s left to learn from that,” Jim Curtis, the executive creative director at Clemenger BBDO, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Outlive Humanity

The box itself will be made from three-inch-thick steel and cantilevered off granite. Inside will be a system of Internet-connected storage drives powered by solar panels on the box’s roof.

“It’s built to outlive us all,” Jonathan Kneebone, cofounder of the Glue Society, told ABC. “If the worst does happen, just because the power grids go down, this thing will still be there.”

The biggest issue for the team now is how to help future civilizations access the information it contains. After all, they’ll just find a mysterious monolith out in the middle of nowhere — and we know how that worked out for us already.

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