This place is not a place of honor

I’ve tagged this post with ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ because it might make for good gaming inspiration. But it’s actually real.

The US government has spent some time thinking about how to warn future generations that nuclear waste is buried in particular places. The problem is that it needs to be stored for thousands of years – up to a million by some estimates – long enough for language and culture to change beyond all recognition. Writing, for example, has existed for ‘only’ 5000 years.

One group of experts defined the intended message as follows:

This place is a message… and part of a system of messages… pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor…no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here.

What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location… it increases toward a center… the center of danger is here… of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

Suggestions include

  • An “atomic priesthood” which would “preserve the knowledge about locations and dangers of radioactive waste by creating rituals and myths.”
  • Breeding a special type of cat, which would change color near radiation. The significance of this change would be taught “through fairy tales and myths. Those fairy tales and myths in turn could be transmitted through poetry, music and painting.”
  • Building a wall with furrows and ridges so that “the wind blowing across would make a sinister sound”, a landscape of thorns, or high, black blocks that look forbidding and are too hot to give shelter.


Damn Interesting



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