The man who is ‘backing up’ human civilisation: Inventor laser etches global news stories, books and scientific breakthroughs on hundreds of ceramic tiles buried in a salt mine
- Ceramics hobbyist Martin Kunz, 50, is storing the texts in an Austrian mountain
- He laser engraves the tablets, which are about the size of a bathroom tile
- The ‘preservation project’ is meant to preserve knowledge about our civilisation from ‘oblivion and collective amnesia’
An Austrian man is ‘backing up’ human civilisation on hundreds of ceramic tiles in an attempt to preserve knowledge about modern society.
The tablets, about the size of a bathroom tile, are laser-engraved with personal recollections, global news, texts of books and scientific studies.
Ceramics hobbyist Martin Kunz, 50, is storing the texts in a salt mine buried a mile (1.6 km) deep inside an Austrian mountain.
He describes his Memory of Mankind plan as a ‘preservation project’ meant to protect knowledge about our civilisation from ‘oblivion and collective amnesia’.
The ultimate aim is to create a log that could last thousands or even millions of years in the hopes that advanced alien civilisations may one day read it.
Ceramics hobbyist Martin Kunz, 50, is storing the texts in a salt mine buried a mile (1.6 km) deep in an Austrian mountain. Pictured is a crate of tablets stored in the mine
Mr Kunz, based in the Austrian town of Gmunden, has already etched more than 500 tablets since Memory of Mankind (MOM) began in 2012.
Each small tablet, measuring just eight by eight inches, can fit five 400-page books thanks to a laser etching technique that allows Mr Kunz to cram in reams of super-downsized text.
Anthropologists, musicologists, linguists and space experts have guided him on scientific papers and findings worthy of inclusion in the archive.
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‘As a species, we’re collectors and rememberers. We leave traces of ourselves everywhere,’ Mr Kunz told GQ.
‘MOM is the first “bottom-up” history of the world … I always have to emphasise that this is not a doomsday project.’
Mr Kunz, who got into ceramics as a student, was inspired by the longevity of ancient tablets left behind by some of humanity’s first civilisations.
Mr Kunz plans to create hundreds of tokens, like the one pictured above, that act as a trasure map to show future civilisations the location of his archive. One one side (left) is a map of Europe with an ‘x’ marking the spot of the mine, while on the other is a map showing where the mine is along a lake in the Austrian town of Hallstatt
His tablets, which he etches using a laser engraver in his workshop, are stored in one of the world’s oldest salt mines, near the small Austrian town of Hallstatt.
Many are engraved with love letters, diary entries, newspaper articles and blogs sent to Mr Kunz by people across the world through his website.
Around 50 crates of tablets are stored in a small corner of the mine gifted to Mr Kunz by the owners at salt firm Saltzwelten (Salt Worlds).
The first of them is etched with a greeting to future finders from Mr Kunz himself.
He believes future civilisations could use the tablets to learn about humanity millions of years from now.
Each small tablet, measuring just eight by eight inches, can fit five 400-page books thanks to a laser etching technique that allows Mr Kunz to cram in reams of super-downsized text
To guide future readers, it is dated using astronomical events to allow civilisations that can’t read numbers to understand the contents within.
There’s also a pictionary, so they can understand letters and words.
While much of human history and culture is now stored on the internet, he believes the data won’t last forever.
If a solar storm or power outage doesn’t wipe the data out, it could be deleted as humanity’s storage space runs out.
‘Sooner or later we’ll have to delete data, massively. Just for economical and ecological reasons,’ he said.
‘This deletion will not be organised, not considered in selecting what we want to keep.’
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