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Wearable computing is not exactly new, but the concept has been refined over the decades.

The definition of wearable computers has evolved over time, much like how the definition of “smartphones” has changed.

Wearable tech has mostly involved head-mounted displays and wrist-mounted user-interfaces like watches.

Wearable computing is no longer reserved for uber-geeks, especially with Google Glass and smartwatches now going mainstream.

These user interfaces are not just reserved for mobile computing, but also for other purposes, like accessibility, learning, research and navigation.




The earlier years of the new millennium weren’t as productive in the field of wearable computing as today. No major milestones were reached, but there were a few systems created in the pursuit of wearable computing. Nevertheless, the Tinmith wearable computer by Dr. Bruce H. Thomas and Dr. Wayne Piekarski was introduced in 2000 at the ISWC conference. It was a system created to support research in augmented reality.

Sacha Chua in the early 2000s with a Twiddler one-handed keyboard and an M1 head-mounted display. (Photo: John Chua)

In 2002, Xybernaut’s Poma Wearable PC was introduced. It won an award from a tech magazine but did not find commercial success. In 2003, the Fossil Wrist PDA was released, running on Palm OS 4 and offering MicroUSB to PC synchronization. Moreover, the W200 wearable computer from Glacier Computer was introduced in 2009. It was designed to run either Windows CE or the Linux operating systems. It featured a touch color display with a 320×240 resolution, backlit keyboard, and integrated wired and wireless connectivity including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. The W200 was designed for emergency services, field logistics, and security and defense purposes.



After the rise of the smartphones, wearable computing technology has jumped on the “smart” bandwagon to come up with a counterpart or complementary device: the smartwatch. Wristwatches have adopted new technologies to do more than just displaying time and date. They now come with significantly better displays, connectivity, and software that match those of smartphones. The definition for a smartwatch, however, is quite ambiguous. There are no well-established standards as to what qualifies as a real smartwatch. Nevertheless, among major international manufacturers, it is Sony that introduced the world’s first smartwatch in what the company aptly but uncreatively calls the Sony SmartWatch. This smartwatch does its job as a wristwatch and pairs with a smartphone to offer a number of functions like viewing social media feeds, reading text messages, receiving notifications, and serving as a remote control for a smartphone. Sony’s smartwatch fits the bill on what can be the ideal wrist-worn device.

Sony SmartWatch

Of course, before Sony outed its own smartwatch, there were a number of smaller companies that already came up with their own versions of the device. Chinese manufacturers have already developed wristwatches that were capable of making calls and accessing the Internet even before the Japanese electronics giant introduced its smartwatch. These devices left a lot to be desired in terms of quality and reliability, but they were already able to implement the concept of a wristwatch that can make calls, receive text messages, process information, make calculations, and access the web. Other players in the consumer electronics field are widely believed to be in the final stages of developing their own versions of the smartwatch. Apple, for instance, has already applied for an “iWatch” patent in Japan and beyond. Qualcomm is expected to launch the Zola smartwatch in September. Intel is reported to be experimenting with smartwatch product. A Samsung VP confirmed that it is currently working on a smartwatch. Google is also rumored to be developing a smartwatch based on the Android operating system. However, it is a group of college students from India that could be considered the first to launch a smartwatch that offers the full features of the Android OS, also capable of making calls and taking photos. This £150 ($227) smartwatch is called Androidly and offers Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity. Other smartwatches worth mentioning are the Pebble Watch, MotoActv and WIMM One. Pebble Watch is a smartwatch developed by Pebble Technology under a crowd-funded model launched on Kickstarter. It features a 144×168 pixel 1.26-inch low power memory LCD display more commonly referred to as an “e-paper.” The MotoActv is Motorola’s version of a smartwatch that comes with a 600 MHz OMAP3 ARMv7 CPU, 256 MB of RAM, 8 GB flash memory, and Bluetooth connectivity. It also has an FM tuner and runs on Android. Its display is a 1.6-inch capacitive multi-touch LCD with a resolution of 220×176. WIMM One, on the other hand, runs on a modified version of Android and features a transflective bi-modal screen, 3-axis magnetometer, 3-axis accelerometer, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and USB connectivity.

Google Glass and other “eyewear computers”

Fortunately or unfortunately, there isn’t a generic term yet for this new type of mass market wearable computer pioneered by Google. (While Google is certainly not the first ones to design a wearable device in the form of glasses, they are the first ones who have successfully garnered enough mainstream interest.) Google Glass would seem to establish a new kind consumer electronics device distinguished by its integration of an optical head-mounted display, augmented reality, camera, web access, and voice-based interaction.

Forget glasses. Innovega’s iOptiks plans to embed an Augmented Reality system right into contact lenses. I’m thinking of MI: Ghost Protocol right now.

Aside from being considered a wearable computer, Google Glass is also categorized as an “ubiquitous” computer — mainly because it is meant to be used  both actively and passively. Some of the device’s notable features are 5 MP camera with 720p HD video recording, touchpad input, a 640×360 display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, ambient light sensing, and a bone conduction transducer. It has an OMAP 4430 dual-core CPU and runs on the Android operating system. A number of companies are expected to release their Google Glass counterpart devices. One of them is Scope Technologies, which has partnered with Epson in developing a computer-assisted eyewear dubbed as an “augmented reality training system.” Another possible rival is the Spark from Seebright. Spark is a head-mounted device intended to provide an immersive experience by allowing its user to look into the small details of an object being examined or to see different points of view. Innovega, on the other hand, is embarking on a more ambitious goal of developing a contact lens that presents images right on top of a user’s eye to enhance normal vision. Then there’s also Vuzix, which has been touted as one of the bigger potential competitors against Google Glass.

Technologies that improve wearable computers

What do we need wearable computers for?

I would have wanted to write this part in an earlier paragraph. However, considering how wearable technology has been progressing, it would seem more appropriate to somewhat use this enumeration of purposes as a summary after examining the development of wearable computers through the years. Wearable computers have doubtlessly become significantly better since they were conceptualized before the 1980s. They are expected to achieve near-perfection and possibly undergo another technological revolution in the years to come. Therefore, wearable computers are expected to be more useful in serving the scope of purposes listed below:

Enabling ubiquitous computing and wireless communications

Assisting visually-impaired and hard-of-hearing individuals in interacting with their environment

Aiding deaf-mutes in communicating with other people

Recording and documenting activities, processes, and events (especially for scientists, or perhaps intelligence agents)

Accessing and sharing information quickly and wirelessly

Making computations and preparing electronic documents on-the-go

Multimedia entertainment

Schedules setting and tracking

Capturing and sharing textual, audio, and visual data

Interacting with or controlling other electronic devices

Facilitating learning and instruction

Even with Google Glass expected to go mainstream soon, we’re only hitting the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential of wearable computing, especially with how quickly development has accelerated compared to the previous decades. In the future, instead of smartphones and tablets, perhaps we will all be plugged into the cloud through our eyeglasses, watches and even our clothes. Isn’t this an exciting time we live in?

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Negative Tech Ads: A Short History In Video

Apple’s 25-Year War on Microsoft

It all goes back to the very first Macintosh TV ad–the legendary “1984.” True, the commercial didn’t mention Microsoft by name. But it did compare people who used IBM PCs–powered by Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s MS-DOS–to a zombie army under the control of an evil overlord. That can’t be considered a compliment.

By the 1990s, Apple’s Microsoft-bashing had gotten less futuristic and more explicit.

This is a “Switch” commercial made for airing in Japan–and you don’t need to speak a word of Japanese to get the gist, and to identify the moment at which she stops talking about PCs and begins discussing Macs.

From time to time, Apple would take a breather from beating up on Microsoft to beat up on Intel. Here’s a late-1990s ad showing the Pentium II as being literally sluggish, and another dedicated to steamrolling a conveniently arrayed lineup of Intel-based laptops (the first one to go looks to be a ThinkPad).

In 2005, Apple announced that it was switching its entire Mac line to Intel processors, ensuring that the chipmaker would henceforth be spared Apple’s marketing wrath. One suspects, however, that as long as there are Macs and Windows PCs, Apple will continue to taunt Microsoft.

More Microsoft Bashing

Target: Atari

At the time, Mattel hired Out of My League and Paper Lion author George Plimpton to serve as spokesman for its Intellivision game system. Presumably the company sought out Plimpton because of his writing about real-world sports. (It surely wasn’t because he was a videogame expert–I doubt that the guy could tell Donkey Kong Jr. from Dig-Dug in a police lineup.) Plimpton spent much of his on-air time snarking at the low-grade graphics of Atari’s 2600 games.

Here he is comparing Intellivision’s sports games to Atari’s. A quarter-century later, a viewer’s immediate reaction to the ad is likely to be “Geez, all of them look abysmal!” But if you weren’t playing videogames back then, trust me: The Intellivision versions were impressive.

ColecoVision had better graphics than either the Atari 2600 or Intellivision, but the point of this ad was that it was more expandable than Atari’s consoles. You could, for instance, convert it into an Adam home computer–a system later reviled as one of the worst PCs of all time.

Commodore vs. the World

Here’s a similar ad, but this one takes on Apple and IBM–and reminds us that in the early ’80s, computing was a revolution that most Americans hadn’t yet experienced personally.

Sharper–and Obsolete

Always Off Line

Back in 1997, AOL was wildly popular–and practically synonymous with the busy signals that users frequently encountered when they tried to dial in. In fact, all archrival CompuServe had to do to evoke AOL’s woes was to play busy signals over a blank screen during this 1997 Super Bowl ad–no explicit mention of AOL necessary.

The ad attracted plenty of attention, but did it help CompuServe’s competitive position? Not enough, apparently: Later that year, AOL gobbled it up–and then spent the next few years frittering away its acquisition’s once formidable reputation and customer base.


Tweeter was a venerable Boston-based electronics dealer that overexpanded into multiple regions, went bankrupt in 2007, and shuttered all its stores at the end of 2008. Part of the problem for Tweeter, as for every other electronics retailer that has failed in recent years, was intense competition from the behemoth of Bentonville–better known as Wal-Mart. Before Tweeter folded, it tried to take on Wal-Mart directly in this ad (circa 2006). Chris, the Tweeter spokesguy, may be cocky, but I sense that deep down inside he knows his days are numbered.

User-Generated Discontent

Mob Job

I don’t think this online commercial, starring Vincent Pastore of The Sopranos, is among the ones that Kodak’s rivals lodged formal complaints against–but it’s so irresistibly dark, mean, and funny that it strikes the right note on which to end this roundup.

Harry McCracken, former editor in chief of PCWorld, now blogs at his own site, Technologizer.

Thinking Bold: A Peek Into The Future Through Vivo’s 5G Innovation

Changing the smartphone experience as we know it Pioneering consumer needs before they exist

It’s easy to say that 5G has the potential to change the world with its speed. It fills, as Tamrakar points out, “this exponentially growing need for a lot of data transmission that 4G networks cannot handle.” The speed boost sounds like a strong case for 5G on its own, but for a consumer-centered company like vivo, it’s all about the experiences made possible by this technology.

Tamrakar and his team look ahead to what the 5G services and consumer expectations will look like in the next two years, and then focus their R&D efforts on the innovation needed to make these new product experiences possible. It’s not an easy task, but solving challenges is business-as-usual for the team. “We are driven by new challenges,” Tamrakar says. “Once you overcome the challenges and you see the technology applied in real products, you can feel the reward.”

Life as a standards expert at vivo can be quite exciting. Tamrakar’s team is tasked with challenges like making sure 5G smartphones can fit into nearly the same footprint as the 4G LTE devices before them. He points out that, “people have to carry this [device] all the time.” While thicker, heavier phones were once the norm, now it’s all about staying at the cutting edge of R&D technology. Tamrakar applauds the research team’s work in developing a 3D stacking method, where the PCB boards are stacked and compressed to offer more room for key components like battery and 5G.

Mastering a smartphone’s battery life is one of the biggest challenges for the team, after all, the battery size has a physical limitation. As a vivo expert and author of numerous technical papers on 3G, 4G, and 5G standards, Tamrakar had hands-on experience with the power requirements of 5G long before the public. He and his team were able to identify key consumer needs, like those of gamers: a fast connection, low latency, and also low battery consumption. Those are easy needs to notice — almost all users want reliable connection and battery optimizations.

However, Tamrakar’s team took gaming a step further. “While gaming, users don’t want to get interrupted with incoming calls,” he explains. That meant coming up with software to identify when a user is gaming and automatically tailor the experience to them.


Not all of the consumer needs that vivo identifies can be addressed right away. In some cases, it’s a matter of developing the proper technology first. Tamrakar describes the need to work towards a different set of goals.

“If you first look at the long-term goals, we will think ahead of our consumers and think of the technologies that the consumer has never thought about. But in terms of setting our mid-term goals, we look to our consumers for immediate feedback, and focus on solving those challenges first,” he says.

What comes after 5G?

vivo doesn’t just aspire to be an industry leader. In fact, Tamrakar is more proud of the team’s determination to contribute to the development of society with its technology. He has his eyes set on people’s way of living in the next 10 years. It’s the hope of achieving what’s next that keeps him looking forward.

When you think about the fact that vivo set up its 5G Research Institute in 2023, it’s even more remarkable to see where the X series is at. Tamrakar and the other experts are already focused on the next two years and identifying new challenges. He describes the hunt for new obstacles as one of the key drivers for the team.

Today, vivo has an endless commitment to what’s next and has already published multiple whitepapers digging into the potential of 6G. Tamrakar says that 5G has evolved in Release 15, 16, 17, and Release 18 now, the latest iteration of 3GPP 5G standards. As it nears one of its final stages, the team has turned its views to 6G and the early stages of research. Tamrakar details the process of comparing data speed and consumption and even hypothesized the possibility of 3D videos.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you should skip the 5G generation of smartphones. Tamrakar explains that there are “like 10 or 15 different technologies as potential candidate technologies for 6G.” They just haven’t been cracked yet. We’ll just have to see where a love of learning and a passion for curiosity take Rakesh Tamrakar and the team at vivo next.

What Does The Future Of 3D Printing Look Like?

Who’s Going To Be Using 3D Printers?

In all likelihood, 3D printers will continue to find new and interesting applications. However, 3D printing becomes highly useful especially in the medical field. They provide a cheap way to reproduce special casts, hip replacements, and other prosthetics. Of course, hospitals aren’t the only ones interested in these critters. Space engineers find 3D printing to be highly useful in their fields as well! They believe that 3D printing might be just the thing they need to colonize other celestial worlds.

Aside from these ambitious purposes, 3D printers have also found a home in the hobbyist’s dwelling. A 3D printer can help them create collectibles and objects that they are fond of. Everything from toys to guns have come out of this new technology, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These printers have even found a niche market in culinary arts!

In the near future, we might see bio engineering and other sophisticated scientific fields using 3D printers, much like these folks. Because of the large range of applications this technology can be used in, it’s doubtful whether 3D printing will ever really die. Once you release a behemoth, there’s no stopping it!

What About Manufacturing?

I have my doubts about whether 3D printing will be able to replace even a small portion of the manufacturing sector. Perhaps in highly-technical applications (such as the creation of CPUs and other computer hardware), it will surpass current modern manufacturing techniques. Two conditions need to be met for 3D printing to become feasible for mass manufacturing:

They need to produce objects faster than conventional manufacturing processes.

They need to be compatible with a diverse amount of materials, which must also be cheaper than they currently are.

Of course, the prospect of replacing manufacturing processes with 3D printers isn’t too far fetched. It might actually work. And if it does, we’ll probably be seeing a decline in the amount of specialized manufacturing plants (and pollution) on a global scale. Today’s manufacturing processes can be designed to produce one particular thing (i.e. a Mercedes plant can only produce Mercedes cars, but not pens and paperclips). 3D printers would eliminate this hindrance and allow smaller manufacturers to adapt to market changes. The risk of starting a factory would be nearly non-existent until the market is completely saturated. We’d practically have a new frontier that presents an unbelievable amount of consumer choices.

Refuting The Refutation

We cannot operate under the assumption that 3D printing will stay the way it is today. It’s a constantly evolving technology just like any other. Its first iterations involved making objects out of layers of extruded and heated plastic, but we are now seeing 3D printers that can create metallic objects. Sure, it’s not a viable technology for every use at this point, but that’s not going to stop some people from trying to make cheaper methods of printing things.

Mims makes a great point about how printing things out of plastic is somewhat inferior to building things out of wood, and that we might actually see more, not less, wooden objects. While this is true, we cannot discount the fact that many industries may still find these materials more useful than wood. After all, hip replacements cannot be made of oak.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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How Far Into The Future Does Bitcoin’s Dominance Go

Cryptocurrencies, overall, witnessed a massive surge lately. Bitcoin, for instance, crossed the much anticipated $60k mark. Different analysts have projected a $100k mark for the prime cryptocurrency by the end of this year. However, some analysts expect limit to the upside in bitcoin despite the possibility of it reaching an ATH. Rather, they shared their perspective on an incoming bear market.

Digital asset analyst Jason Pizzino released a new video on Youtube to address his subscribers on the aforementioned topic. According to this analyst, Bitcoin dominance and market sentiment played a role in determining a bear run.

Meanwhile, based on history, money flows into Bitcoin during a bull market thereby increasing Bitcoin’s market share in the cryptocurrency market.

The crypto market is in one of the final phases of Bitcoin increasing its market share. Post this, money flows back out into altcoins.

“So if we’re repeating something similar to history at the moment, maybe we are on one of these last stages of Bitcoin regaining some dominance before the money flows back out into alts. And people get that one last hit of euphoria and adrenaline while their money goes up.”

The chart below highlights the same.

So now the question that arises is, when will the bull run come to an end?

Consider the chart above. Well, the main thing we look at here is, “when we get these turning points – when the market starts to slow and then reverse back the other way,’ the analyst said, adding,

“This is the time when the money is flowing back into Bitcoin and then as you can see for a shorter period of time comes back into alts because people think, ‘Well, maybe it’s time for the alts to play again.’ But it gets a higher bottom in this case, and then it’s back into Bitcoin. So it looks like the alt party is over.”

But was it actually true? According to Pizzino, some signs could be observed.

“So we can see we’ve got two bottoms – a little double bottom here and the money is flowing out into Bitcoin, but there are still some old coins popping off within this period. It’s just not spread across the entire space.”

Indication of a bearish run

When favorable news fails to push the price up, it’s an indication that the market has turned bearish. In fact, Bitcoin has been going through the same.

With Bitcoin, a lot of the bad news isn’t really affecting it too much. “We are still getting higher lows and the market continues up and on the flip side, the good news is still pushing the market up,” he opined and further stated,

“If and when we flip into a bear market, it’ll be the reverse. The good news will just hold the market up. It won’t actually push it up too much, and the bad news will continue to dump the market even harder.”

Overall, BTC did suffer a slight correction of about 2% in the past 24 hours. At press time, it was trading at the $60.7k mark. Does this setback really indicate the arrival of the bear?

How To Send Messages 10,000 Years Into The Future

Corroded, wrecked, and half-buried for 2,000 years like an accidental time capsule, the Statue of Liberty that looms over Charlton Heston in the final scene of the original Planet of the Apes is a literal symbol of humanity’s missteps: a horrible communiqué from the distant past about atomic annihilation. In the real world, many linguists, designers, and scientists are puzzling over how to intentionally send millennia-spanning messages to recipients whose languages, senses, and fears could bear little resemblance to our own. The projects these ­forward-​­thinkers dream up aim to convey clues about our existence, hellos to extraterrestrials, or warnings about nuclear waste—like postcards that will be legible to beings 1,000, 5,000, even 10,000 years ahead.

The Moon Museum Tim McDonagh

A Lunar Time Capsule

We left a secret message on the moon. Among the roughly 400,000 pounds of human-made lunar detritus is a tiny ceramic wafer on a leg of Apollo 12’s lander; this Moon Museum bears six artist doodles, including a particularly curious sketch of male genitalia by Andy Warhol. In 2023, a team from Carnegie Mellon University plans to send a more comprehensive collection to the surface on a private spacecraft. Their MoonArk houses natural and human-made tidbits inside a protective 8-inch-tall aluminum skeleton. Its four five-sided chambers contain hundreds of ­micro-​­etched artistic renderings and words. There are also literal slices of life: freeze-dried human blood, the DNA of an Arctic tern, and an illustration of a gene we share with songbirds. The setup can survive between minus 280 and plus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lack of atmosphere and moisture on the moon eliminates the risk of corrosion. While the ark displays no instructions on how to use its contents, its designers are fairly certain if another being sees a strange object strapped to an abandoned lander, they’ll be likely to check it out.

The Ominous Monolith Tim McDonagh

Nuclear Caution Tape

Outside Carlsbad, New Mexico, 2,150 feet underground in a salt formation, sits ­America’s atomic garbage can. There, ­defense-​­related radioactive waste like contaminated soil will keep the site glow-in-the-dark-you’re-dead dangerous for at least the next 10,000 years. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency requires this Waste Isolation Pilot Plant site to clearly mark the zone for whoever happens upon it in the distant future. Since the 1980s, a series of government task forces have considered several potential enduring methods, including an “atomic priesthood,” in which scientists would pass down information about the refuse to their analogs. They also toyed with the idea of creating “ray cats”—­genetically engineered felines that would change color near radiation—to awesomely indicate danger to passersby. In 2004, a third group landed on a proposal to surround the site with a set of 48 ominous granite spires reaching 25 feet to the sky. A monolithic building at the center will house warnings in seven languages, including Navajo. One hiccup they didn’t plan for: No quarry in the world has that much granite. So now the team is considering mixing cement with plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Construction should start sometime in the 2050s.

The Companion Guide to Earth Tim McDonagh

Alien Greetings

We don’t know for certain if ­intelligent life is out there, let alone if it will reach us before we reach it. If we speak first, E.T. might hear The Golden ­Record, an LP of gold-plated copper that NASA bolted to the Voyagers 1 and 2 probes in 1977. This cosmic hello includes sounds such as a smacking kiss, songs like “Johnny B. Goode,” images NASA converted into audio waveforms, and picto­graphic instructions to access it all. If aliens show up here, Paul Quast, director of the Beyond the Earth ­Foundation, a group focused on safeguarding the planet over deep time, has an idea for a welcome sign. The plan: Affix his “Companion Guide to Earth” to a satellite some 22,400 miles up (in the area of space called graveyard orbit) to serve as a primer on our home. Inside the 1.25-inch aluminum sphere, 16 ­micro-​­etched nickel discs will contain ­vital ­information, including the composition of Earth’s biome and climate and the locations of nuclear ­repositories. (“Don’t dig here; ­oxygen required.”) Visitors will be able to glimpse data on the discs at 100-times magnification or play it back as audio—​which will feature charmers like whale sounds. Illustrations show guests how to mine the trove. On its surface, the orb will also bear a ­topographic map of the world below.

The 10,000-Year Clock Tim McDonagh

The Timekeeper

Generations from now, long after Big Ben has crumbled and our calendars have disintegrated, the 10,000 Year Clock will still keep time. Tucked deep in Texas’ ­Sierra Diablo Mountains, this 500-foot-tall mechanical Stonehenge will mark the next 10 millennia. Perched above a series of stainless-steel gears, sun and moon ­dials will plot Earth’s place in space, and a five-​­digit counter will display the year (so, “02023” for 2023). It took ­decades of prototyping by engineers at the ­future-​­planning-​­focused Long Now Foundation to develop a mechanism that could keep the beacon ticking without human intervention. They settled on a thermal generator, which converts temperature changes between day and night into power; its energy transfers to a weight that then swings a 6-foot titanium pendulum every 7.5 seconds. Visitors who happen upon the clock can push a crank at its base, providing the timepiece with a welcome boost and a chance to ring its dusty ol’ chimes.

The Memory of Mankind Tim McDonagh

The Hardest Drive

The sum of human experience won’t fit on a hard drive or in the cloud. Even if it could, those technologies are destined to fail. That’s why Martin Kunze, a cera­micist and self-​­described conservator, is curating submissions for his Memory of Mankind project, a long-term backup of our most important achievements and publicly sourced personal stories. Inside a section of an active salt mine outside Hallstatt, Austria, rest more than 600 7.9-inch-square ­ceramic tiles he’s already ­laser-​printed with scientific papers and love letters, newspapers and photographs. The archive includes, for ­instance, Carl Sagan’s The ­Demon-​­Haunted World and a paper on the first detection of gravitational waves. Ceramic is a hardy choice. Since it’s nonreactive, there’s little that can degrade the material. ­(Archaeologists have dated fragments of Chinese pottery going back 20,000 years.) Each tile holds 50,000 characters of text or 300-​dot-​per-inch color images. But soon they could contain even more. A ­laser-​­engraving technique Kunze developed will write five lines of text per millimeter, allowing each slab to house up to 5 million ­characters—​that’s the equivalent of five 400-page books. Those who submit an image or enough text receive a ceramic token showing the mine’s location. In 20,000 years, the keepsakes might lead someone to a goldmine of stories.

The Rosetta Disk Tim McDonagh

Language Decoder

The Hollywood Star Chart Tim McDonagh

Cosmic Calendar

The Hoover Dam was dedicated on September 30, 1935. You’d know this if you could read the 20-foot-diameter celestial map surrounding the base of a flagpole on the wall’s western side. In the late 1930s, artist Oskar J.W. Hansen made the star chart to speak to “intelligent people” in ages to come. His point? To essentially say, We made this. We existed. Here’s how this static timepiece works: The ­compass-​­shaped, art deco map marks the year based on our Pole Star, a northern beacon that gradually changes as the planet moves through space. Right now, that fireball is Polaris; in ancient Egypt, it was Thuban; in some 12,000 years, it will be Vega. The shift happens because Earth has a 23.5-degree tilt, which makes us wobble like a spinning top and changes our ­orientation—​what astronomers call axial precession. Comparing the points of light in the chart to the star hovering over the North Pole lets visitors assess the dam’s age. Made of terrazzo, a composite of crushed marble and cement (same as the Hollywood Walk of Fame), the map could last for at least 2,000 years. That’s also about how long the 726-foot-high ​water-wall should stand.

This story originally published in the Out There issue of Popular Science.

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