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 ...
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").
Doesn't protect against falling roof tiles or small meteorites, and blocks most CNN broadcasts.
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.
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?
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
- 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)