6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Future

#3. The Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages


When the astronauts of Apollo 11 made their famous trek to the moon, they carried along some souvenirs for our lunar neighbor to remember them by: an American flag, a plaque inscribed with the statement "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind," and page after page of messages of goodwill from people all over the world.

And then we declared world peace and no one died ever again.

But you obviously can't carry a huge stack of paper with you to the moon -- the pages would get all floaty as soon as you let go of them. So to solve this conundrum, NASA developed the Apollo 11 goodwill messages. Those pages upon pages of paper letters were each photographed, reduced 200 times to a size much smaller than the head of a pin and etched onto a silicon disc about the size of a 50-cent piece via the same process still used to construct the circuit boards present in all your personal electronic devices today.

And then that was shrunk and hidden in the body of a flea, and then they lost the flea. And we've forgotten our point.

At the top of the disc is the inscription "Goodwill messages from around the world brought to the moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11." Around the rim is the statement "From Planet Earth -- July 1969." The disc now rests in a protective aluminum capsule on the moon's Sea of Tranquility, waiting for some future lunar explorer to stumble across it and wish he had a microscope so he could read the damn thing.

So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?

The microscopic statements carried on the disc are from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and from the leaders of 73 other countries around the world. Some of the statements are handwritten, some are typed and many are in the author's native language. An especially ornate message from the Vatican is signed by Pope Paul VI.

"Dear aliens, you don't exist. Also, you're going to hell. Regards, Pope."

The messages from foreign leaders overwhelmingly congratulate the United States and its astronauts on their accomplishments, and the overall sentiment is that the moon landing would usher in the beginning of a new era of brotherhood and peace among all nations of the world. Prophetic, right?

But buried deep within all the "congratulations this" and "peace on Earth that," we'd have to say that this gem of a snippet from the statement of William Tubman, president of Liberia, is the one thing on there that really captured our interest:

"I ask them to bear this message to the inhabitants of the moon if they find any there."

"All those other countries are dicks. Give your lasers to Liberia."

Yeah, we're totally with Tubman on this one. World peace is a nice sentiment and all, but we like to imagine that the Moonlings are up there playing heads or tails with this thing to see who gets to laser our asses first.

#2. The 10,000 Year Clock


Deep inside the bowels of a mountain in western Texas lies something so strange, so utterly bizarre, that it will leave you shaking your head in disbelief.

It's a clock. A really, really big clock.

Take this, make it around 1,000 times larger ...

... and stick it in here.

No, you didn't just stumble into the premise for the worst horror movie ever. We're talking about the 10,000 Year Clock, a project that is currently underway as one of the main focuses of the Long Now Foundation and is funded to the tune of $42 million by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.

The clock is the brainchild of Danny Hillis, who had this idea back in 1995 (or 01995, as "long-thinkers" like to call it):

"I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every one hundred years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years."


We understand if you're literally trembling with excitement at the thought of seeing this thing in action. And we have great news -- getting to it is as easy as taking a daylong hike to a hollowed out mountain on Bezos' land in Texas and traversing huge underground chambers filled with gigantic dials and gears. And bring your own light source, because they don't have one. We'd suggest one of those torches that line the walls of every cave or tomb in the movies.

Or if you're anything like us (i.e., far too lazy for that shit), you can see scale prototypes at the Science Museum of London or at the Long Now Museum & Store in San Francisco.

It's a really large clock shrunk down. Basically it's a normal clock.

So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?

Why put such an enormous amount of effort into something so seemingly random and that so few people will ever see? Is it to send a message to future generations that we ... could build really big clocks?

Actually, the goal of the project is to inspire current and future generations to do more long-term thinking.

Life is fleeting and inconsequential! Yay, time!

Wait, that's it? Long-term thinking? All of this cash couldn't go toward cancer research or something? Funny you asked, because someone else did also, and here's what Hillis had to say about that ridiculous idea:

"I think this is the most important thing I can work on. More than cancer. Over the long run, I think this will make more difference to more people."

Well, when you put it that way ... yeah, we'd still rather have a cure for cancer. Thanks for the big stupid clock, though!

Or the dwarf catapult or whatever.

#1. The Immortality Drive


Part publicity stunt for one of the biggest MMORPG flops ever, all "Look at me! Look at me!" stunt by Richard "Lord British" Garriott, the Immortality Drive was a microchip encoded with digitized DNA information personally delivered by Garriott to the International Space Station for safekeeping.

"I've got your DNA right here. No seriously, it's right here in my pocket."

Operation Immortality, as the project was referred to in the campaign leading up to the drive's eventual delivery to the ISS, was "a project to collect and archive the very best of what humanity is and has accomplished." Garriott and video game company NCsoft spent the months leading up to the spaceflight promoting the project, running contests to give Tabula Rasa players a chance to have their DNA sequences included on the drive and collecting surveys from gamers to determine the final data that would make its way up into space. Because as we all know, if there's any one group that completely embodies the best of what humanity is, it's MMORPG players.

You can pose all you like, handsome stock guy. You're still shitting in the middle of a raid.

And in October of 2008, at a reported cost of $30 million, Garriott became the sixth paying space traveler in history when he hitched a ride to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with the very future of humanity in tow.

So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?

The goal of Operation Immortality was to preserve the genetic code of the very cream of the human crop, should the human race ever go poof! and need to be replicated from a backup copy in the future. So which humans are the best of the best, according to Garriott and company?

Hint: Sir Captain Lieutenant McNotYou.

Men whose DNA sequences were stored on the drive include Richard Garriott himself (duh), Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist), Stephen Colbert (comedian), Scott Johnson (Olympic gold medalist), Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel (pro gamer), Matt Morgan (American Gladiator and pro wrestler) and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 others, mostly writers (one of whom was a Cracked writer -- the old dead-tree version, that is) and musicians.

Women who were included were Jo Garcia (Playboy's Cyber Girl of the Year for 2008), Lucy Hawking (Stephen's daughter) and a couple other television writers.

Something seems a bit askew there, but we can't quite put our finger on it.

Oh, only one Playmate. That must be it.

So we can all rest in peace knowing that in the future ensured by the Immortality Drive, the human race will have our post-apocalyptic entertainment needs covered in spades. But it's probably a good thing that we will have mastered a non-sexual means to propagate the species.

For more completely insane projects, check out 6 Insane Do It Yourself Projects That Put Yours to Shame and 5 Projects You Won't Believe the US Government Is Working On.

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