News

The Story of the World on Ceramic Tablets

December 30, 2018

We live in the Information Age. We are positively swimming in data. And the vast majority of that information exists in digital form. What would happen if there were an enormous solar flare and all the world’s computers were fried instantaneously?

How much would we lose? What would be left? Could civilization carry on?

Another way to look at it — one million years from now, what will remain? The pyramids, perhaps, but what about Hamlet or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Anything written in a book will be long-since decomposed, as will computer chips and the computers needed to read them.

A Ceramicist on a Mission

These were the questions that were keeping Martin Kunze up at night. As a ceramicist, he makes his living selling funky vases and plates to tourists who pass through his small alpine village of Gmunden, Austria.

Then one day he realized something: He was already creating objects that would remain in one million years. Super hard ceramics aren’t too different from fossils and are much stronger than the pieces of pottery from ancient civilizations that we dig up today.

So he started laser-engraving ceramic tablets roughly the size of bathroom tiles with information to be read by future generations. They are dated according to astronomical events, not with numbers; it’s unclear if people (or cyborgs or aliens) millions of years from now will be familiar with our numerical system.

Where text is included, he has etched in a pictograph, so they can understand our letters and words.

Where to bury them?

All he needed was somewhere to bury them. Luckily, there is a salt mine a mile and a half into a nearby mountain. What’s more, the owners of the mine had no problem giving their local eccentric a corner of his own. Thanks to the machinations of geology, the archive will slowly, over millennia, rise up on salt crystals to the surface of the earth.

As the project grew, and Kunze began soliciting requests from across the globe, he gave the project a name: Memory of Mankind project (or MOM). The archive now holds over 500 ceramic tablets, and it continues to grow.

How the Ceramic Tablets are Made

The process for making a tablet is rather straightforward. A digital file is run through a laser engraver that uses a special ceramic stain to print directly onto the tablet. Kunze has even developed a technique that he calls “ceramic microfilm” that allows him to fit up to five 400-page books on a single tablet.

True to its mission of offering “a breath of immortality for everyone,” you can go to the MOM website and type your own message that you want engraved onto a ceramic tablet for future generations to find.

To read the entire article, click here: The Time Capsule That’s as Big as Human History

About IRD Ceramics

The sister division of IRD Glass, IRD Ceramics works with Sapphire, Macor, YTZP Zirconium, silicon nitride, and other Super Hard materials.

Our state-of-the-art equipment, advanced precision ceramic machining and polishing capabilities, and in-house thin film coating facility allow us to produce 100% customized components at low or high volume.

We manufacture numerous sapphire components, custom sapphire windows up to 8” in diameter, and stock sapphire windows, which are available with:

  • Next-day shipping
  • Significant cost savings compared to custom small volume production
  • Immediate small volume pricing—useful when incorporating into your own quotes/ budget

Ready to order? Start Your Quote