6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Future

We've all dreamed about it at some point in our lives, but let's face it: Time travel is probably not going to happen. And if you sign up to have somebody freeze your body and wake you up in the year 3012, all that'll probably happen is you'll wake up the next day in a bathtub of ice with your kidney missing.

But that's not to say we can't at least communicate with the distant future. With nothing more than a message to send and a ludicrous amount of funding, there are all sorts of projects to preserve messages for your great-great-(great-great-great-) grandchildren. Like ...

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6
KEO

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futuremyninjaplease

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The mission of the planned KEO satellite is simple: stay in an orbit that will carry it around Earth, safely away from whatever catastrophe might happen down on the surface, before allowing it to crash back down for the future inhabitants of the planet to find ("find" in this case possibly meaning "be impaled, dismembered or crushed by").

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureCollin Harvey
Doesn't protect against falling roof tiles or small meteorites, and blocks most CNN broadcasts.

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How long will it be up there? Fifty thousand years, give or take a few.

Elected in 1999 as UNESCO's "Project of the 21st century," KEO is the brainchild of French artist Jean-Marc Philippe. It's to be an orbiting time capsule consisting of a spherical body constructed of metal alloys strong enough to protect its precious payload and solar-powered wings that flap for no useful purpose (hint: There's no air up there). That's what you get when you let an artist design a satellite.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futurelistverse
Who wrote the instructions in French? That'll be a dead language in six, seven years max.

So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?

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So when the advanced beings who live on Earth 50,000 years from now float up alongside this giant metal space bug that fluttered down from the cosmos and pop it open with their mind powers, what will be awaiting them inside?


  • A drop of human blood, plus samples of air, sea water and soil, all encased within a diamond engraved with the human genome

  • An astronomical clock

  • Portraits of people of all cultures

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Future
Oh noooooo.

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  • The Contemporary Library of Alexandria, an "encyclopedic compendium of current human knowledge"

  • The full, uncensored text of all the messages submitted by the public on KEO's website

  • Pictorial schematics to build a DVD player (to read the messages)
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Whoa, hang on. Let's step back to that next-to-last one real quick: "The full, uncensored text of all the messages submitted by the public on KEO's website." Think about that for a second. In a world where stuff like 4Chan and Yahoo! Answers exists, their big plan is to send the inhabitants of far-future Earth unfiltered messages from anonymous Internet users.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Future
"Maybe that nuclear war wasn't such a bad idea."

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Excuse us, we're just going to head straight on over there right now and submit our apology to the people of Future Earth and beg them not to send back Timecops to beat the shit out of us.

5
The Georgia Guidestones

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia

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In June of 1979, a mysterious gentleman going by the pseudonym of R. C. Christian walked into the office of a granite finishing company in rural Elbert County, Georgia, and proceeded to request the installation of an unusually large and complex stone monument on behalf of "a small group of loyal Americans." It's been since sometime around the Revolutionary War since the phrase "a small group of loyal Americans" didn't mean something terrifying or insane, and as you'll soon see, this is no different.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWired
The temptation to chisel a dick in that must be enormous.

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Just how large and complex was this monument? It has since earned the nickname "America's Stonehenge," and rightly so: Four 16-foot-tall, 20-ton slabs of granite are arranged in a star pattern to support a 25,000-pound capstone. This metric shit-ton of rock is all flawlessly arranged into a complex clock, calendar and compass that tracks the sun's east-west migration year-round and focuses a beam of sunlight on the center column at precisely noon each day to pinpoint the day of the year.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futureguidestones
Hippies constantly need to be told what day it is.

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Joe Fendley, the president of the granite company responsible for the construction of the monument and the only person at the company to have had direct contact with Christian, has since passed away. To this day, only Wyatt Martin, a local banker who assisted with the transfer of the enormous wads of cash used to finance the project, knows the true identity of R. C. Christian, and he's sworn to secrecy.

So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?

While nothing is clear about the origin of the Georgia Guidestones, the one thing that is generally agreed upon based on the available evidence is that the "guides" inscribed on this monument built to outlast time itself are meant to instruct the survivors of some impending apocalypse on how to avoid the same fate again.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futuretheopenaxiom
"1. Nothing good can come of robots. 2. NOTHING GOOD CAN COME OF ROBOTS."

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The always sane Yoko Ono praised the stones as "a stirring call to rational thinking," but others claim that R. C. Christian was the head of some secret Satanic society and have labeled the stones the "10 Commandments of the Antichrist."

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
God loves petty laws and useless officials.

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So what are these inscriptions that have caused such a fuss? Under the proclamation of "Let These Be Guidestones to an Age of Reason" on the capstone, the eight faces of the stones feature the following statements engraved in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian:

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1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely -- improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion -- faith -- tradition -- and all things with tempered reason.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth -- beauty -- love -- seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth -- Leave room for nature -- Leave room for nature.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
"Except for where you want to construct massive blocks of stone, because fuck nature sometimes."

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Nothing terrifying about that! You know, except for the part where the number one point calls for over 6.3 billion people currently walking the earth to be dead. That, and the thought that the post-apocalyptic civilization who finds these stones will think that this was some kind of commandment from the ancient wise rulers of Old Earth rather than, you know, one guy who had the cash to buy a bunch of granite.

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4
The Voyager Golden Record

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia

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Back when space exploration was still a thing (1977, to be exact), NASA launched the two Voyager spacecraft on their mission to explore the far reaches of our solar system. On board were some quite elaborate messages that could survive to be found by someone (or some thing) a long way away and several thousand years from now.

The idea was inspired by the plaques that had been included on the earlier Pioneer spacecraft, which ignored everything we've learned from every sci-fi movie ever by pinpointing the exact location of our tiny little planet for any advanced alien species who might stumble across them.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
"Attention aliens: We're right here. Also, we're naked and defenseless."

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With the help of a committee led by Carl Sagan, NASA came up with the Voyager Golden Record -- a phonograph record constructed of gold-plated copper and stored inside an aluminum cover electroplated with uranium-238 (so that the discoverer could determine its age). The cover featured pictorial diagrams describing the location of Earth, the speed at which to play the record and how to decode its contents. No word on whether it also included a pictorial explanation of the concept of "yard saling" to find a record player to play it on.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
"Step 3: Offer half the asking price."

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Copies of the Golden Record were included on both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which are still going strong well past their intended lifespan. Voyager 1 is expected to reach the nearest star on its trajectory in just 40 years. What's that? Oh, sorry -- what we meant to say was 40 thousand years.

So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?

The Voyager Golden Record was basically an attempt to cram everything interesting about 1970s Earth into a bottle, and then drop that infinitesimal bottle into the mind-bogglingly vast ocean of space.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
"So do we apologize for Zardoz now or when they come to destroy us?"

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The record contains 115 images depicting the variety of life and culture on Earth, as well as a selection of nature sounds, spoken greetings from various world leaders and examples of the kind of music people on Earth listen to. How a group of aliens with no context are supposed to distinguish the nature sounds from the spoken greetings from the music is a mystery. We have a feeling the tentacled travelers from Ursa Minor will show up 500 centuries from now, having reverse engineered our language based on the assumption that Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is Earth language for "If you find this thing floating in space, please bring it back for a small cash reward."

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
Either that or they send back a Brian Eno remix.

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3
The Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
And then we declared world peace and no one died ever again.

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
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.

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
"Dear aliens, you don't exist. Also, you're going to hell. Regards, Pope."

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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:

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

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
"All those other countries are dicks. Give your lasers to Liberia."

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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

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futuredeskarati

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Future10000yearclock
Take this, make it around 1,000 times larger ...

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Future10000yearclock
... and stick it in here.

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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):

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"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."

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWired
"ALL OF TIME MUST KNOW OF MY GREATNESS."

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futuresciencemuseum
It's a really large clock shrunk down. Basically it's a normal clock.

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futuregizmodo
Life is fleeting and inconsequential! Yay, time!

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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!

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the Futuregizmodo
Or the dwarf catapult or whatever.

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The Immortality Drive

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureGetty

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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWired
"I've got your DNA right here. No seriously, it's right here in my pocket."

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureGetty
You can pose all you like, handsome stock guy. You're still shitting in the middle of a raid.

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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?

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureWikipedia
Hint: Sir Captain Lieutenant McNotYou.

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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.

6 Insane Attempts to Communicate With the FutureGetty
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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