Consumer Technology

Scientists Just Used Nanotechnology To Permanently Store 1000 Languages

With Nanotechnology, You Can Wear and Preserve the World’s Languages
PHOTOGRAPH: Stewart Brand | Long Now’s Rosetta Disk of 700 languages is now available as wearable jewelry, intensely nifty.

Imagine wearing what you know and saying to onlookers, “this is the costume of knowledge.” Through the use of nanotechnology (or tiny machines), a non-profit foundation that fosters long-term thinking now lets you wear a necklace that stores more than 1,000 languages.

The Long Now Foundation has a language library initiative called the Rosetta Project, named after the Rosetta Stone, the ancient artifact inscribed with text that enabled scholars to decipher ancient languages. The Rosetta Wearable Disk – referring to the tiny disk within the necklace — contains the aforementioned 1000+ languages or microscopic pages printed on nickel via nanotechnology.

The disk is also a depository for 327 translations of the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, basic vocabulary lists for 719 languages, the foundation’s manifesto, and diagrams of its other brainchild, a clock meant to function for 10,000 years.

The disk may only be read with a microscope, and it is not for sale. It can only be obtained by people who have donated the amount of $1,000 to the foundation.

The Need to Preserve Languages

There is some alarm over the rapid disappearance of spoken languages in recent years. This is happening in places like Northern Australia and the Southern United States, as well as other regions with languages that have no written form.

Globalization is bestowing languages like English and Mandarin with mandatory usage, superseding more local forms of communication. When a language disappears, an entire culture’s collective wisdom vanishes with it.

It is, therefore, fortunate not only to be able to preserve endangered languages, but to have such massive information at hand through accessible storage. On top of that, it can be a fashion statement.

Nanotechnology: The Future is Now

Over 15 years ago, William Gibson was already writing about nanotechnology, particularly in his novel, All Tomorrow’s Parties. The author of such modern science fiction classics as Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic has developed a reputation as a futurist.

The average reader would hardly remember the plot of All Tomorrow’s Parties. Nonetheless, Gibson’s numerous fans would surely be pleased that the author had recognized in nanotechnology its true merit.


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