In April of this year there was a celebration in Sekura Park, Manhattan, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of cherry trees, a gift from the Emperor in Japan. There was a reenactment of the dedication, with maidens dressed in festive kimonos, and the unearthing of a time capsule from 1912.
In keeping with the custom of time capsules, every visitor of the event was asked to put down his thoughts and wishes for the year 2112. I wasn't quite prepared for it, and in the few minutes I jotted down something about lasting peace, hopes to get global warming under control, survival of polar bears, and my sincere hope that in 2112 there will still be books in tangible form, as folios that one can physically leaf though, open and close.
I was reminded of this gathering, and my contribution to the Sekura Park time capsule, when I read today that a new storage medium has been invented, a technique of etching marks on silicon glass, which is expected to last for 100 million years.
This made me very baffled. A hundred million years ago we did not exist as a species. What will happen in another 100 million years? Will we survive as a colony of flat-footed humunculi with oversized brains on a distant planet of this Galaxy? Will we sit around camp fires and look through the light microscope which is required to read the silicon glass chips, to reflect on our distant past? And will the polar bears survive, if not in reality, but at least as an image on these wondrous chips?
(Image from http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/sakurapark/, the site of NY City Parks and Recreation)