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I was researching the alien races of H.P. Lovecraft when I came across this passage:

The Yith's record keeping

For those unaware, The Great Race of Yith are so named because they've mastered time travel as a means of living forever. This means the Yith who inscribes a plate is intellectually and culturally the same as any Yith who reads that plate eons later; a guarantee that our Longtime nuclear waste warning messages unfortunately lack.

My question is, assuming the Yith can find their plates again, would their way of preserving information be viable in practice? And if not, what would a more efficient, lower-maintenance way of storing information for the ages?

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marked as duplicate by Secespitus, L.Dutch, Mołot, Amadeus, Frostfyre Sep 14 '17 at 12:40

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    $\begingroup$ Their library is great, but the overdue fines are something else..... $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 13 '17 at 4:21
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In our sister site, there is an answer for the Voyager record.

  • Deep space is probably a more benign environment than any library (just a guess).
  • It should be possible to build readers which help to deciper badly decayed macroscopic writing. Similar things happen for serial numbers today.
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Preserving something for eons... As you can imagine, that's an impossible question to answer with certainty since we can't put it to the test.

That being said I'd have to say if they used a special, extremely tough metal (maybe something similar to tantalum or nitinol), then wrote everything 0.5" deep into a 0.75" slab of the chosen metal, then stored it underground in a dry and cool area that's free of earthquakes, it should remain intact for a very long time, longest I can imagine at any rate.

You can also use self-repairing nano-machines that periodically ensure the slabs and themselves are in good condition. As long as they have an indefinite supply of raw materials they should last indefinitely.

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Carving into metal or clay is pretty good, and should last a good long while. An alternative might be to code information into unexpressed DNA segments (with checksums on each message fragment, of course). This way you can't lose access to your library; it follows you around. It might be that your clan encodes a particularly valuable tome of eldritch lore ... other clans might pay a pretty penny for an arranged marriage with you!

I seem to remember a book where they did use a similar trick. Can't remember the name, but it had to do with humans who were being oppressed/hunted by rogue AI machines in space; the humans had secrets about the machines' weaknesses hidden in their DNA.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you link to said book for further details? It's hard for me to imagine anything being written in the DNA of a living creature simply because the cells are going to mess with it, or consider it cancer and attack said cells, or who knows how many things that are hard to imagine. $\endgroup$ – Roshiron Sep 14 '17 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Roshiron, 98.8% of human DNA does not code for any known proteins. Huge amounts of this has no purpose whatsoever as far as we know, and serves only as a holdover from our ancestors. Theoretically, sections of this DNA could be replaced with other non-coding DNA without repercussion, provided it did not affect the coding DNA. $\endgroup$ – Cameron Sep 14 '17 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Roshiron the story is the Galactic Center Saga, by G. Benford. Worth a look-see. $\endgroup$ – akaioi Sep 14 '17 at 16:34

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