Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Vacuous, and the Realm Without Mass

Human behaviour can be a real mystery at times... The other day as my manager and I had closed up shop, we went to the bus stop we normally wait at to read a sign stating that the stop had been moved around the corner. When we arrived at the new temporary stop we were alone but eventually were joined by others who'd obviously read the sign. One lady, who might actually need (or has an addiction to) happy pills, paced back and forth muttering love poetry, or gypsy curses from the moment she got there eventually calling someone on her cell to gripe. The bus was not yet late... The following day, knowing that the stop had been moved, we didn't cross a busy intersection-less 6-lane boulevard twice to read the sign again, but noted that there was a girl waiting at the cancelled stop. We tried to get her attention to no avail, and I reminded my manager that no good deed goes unpunished: crossing the street twice to be good Samaritans would likely involve a trip to the hospital... We pressed on. When the bus arrived, the driver made a point to advise all those already on the bus that this was the stop for the mall, 1 person darted out the door, while another lady signaled that this was not her stop. After the bus turned the corner and passed the cancelled stop, my manager and I laughed that there were now 7 people waiting at a stop which no bus was going to... Then it got funnier... The lady who didn't need this stop, about 150 metres from the cancelled stop, realised that we'd passed her stop she protested that the driver let her off immediately... We laughed until it dawned on us that maybe the present incarnation of mankind is not meant to survive much longer...


Now it's true that I believe about 5% of anything that I read, which can become problematic considering I do read warning labels, but, that out of the 11 people mentioned in my story, (7 at the wrong stop, 2 needing to get off the bus, myself and my manager, waiting at the right stop) that only 3 people could figure out the mystery of the roaming bus stop, despite signage and verbal warnings is a very sad average in deed.

During all of this fiasco I had been pondering the fact that the collected work of knowledge of present times won't survive a millennia even if some of the things we've made will. Consider that we are presently digitising all things and that a hard drive seems to live no longer than about 5 years, a CD or DVD might live 20 years in ideal conditions, and, in our infinite stupid, DVD and blu-ray media has encryption meant to make it hard to copy, or, for that matter, play it back in a different region from where it was sold. The blueprints need specific software to be read, and the formulas are corporate secrets which are likely encrypted even further. Yet, sometimes we find ancient papyrus filled with glyphs from a dead language... Obviously the most advanced knowledge of a society on the verge of utterly decimating itself is stored on an environmentally friendly medium, or in a well protected and difficult to decrypt manner.

Would a newly evolved version of ourselves a millennia from now even understand that the mirror-polished perfectly round hard disk platter contained information stored in magnetic frequencies? Or would they think 'wow those poor bastards had very large coins'? I can't presume to know the answer, but I doubt that disc would still contain data even a few decades from now were it buried in silt and seawater. I do know that advanced hard drive recovery currently involves special equipment in clean rooms and quarantine suits, so it seems unlikely there would be enough 1's and 0's unscathed to rebuild the information. I have no idea how to play back a CD without a device made to read it, but I can play a record with a lazy Susan, sewing needle, and a paper cup...

I've long felt a déjà vu about the here and now and never wrote off the idea that it has all happened before, just like it did last time. Not that such things can really be proven one way or the other. But we are certainly in a situation where all recent knowledge would be the first portion obliterated if all human DNA suddenly turned to dust tomorrow... Even our long-range space probes like voyager 1 could roam the galaxy for eons and never encounter it's predecessor in there vast beyond. Though it's more likely to find itself sucked into the gravity some star and melted at the first available opportunity.

Ironically, my own words here in this realm of electrons passing through a datastream could disappear without a mass extinction event.

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