This place is not a place of honor - THE MUSICAL!
August 25, 2016 9:19 AM   Subscribe

In the early 90s the US Department of Energy commissioned a study about how to warn people of the far future about a nuclear waste dump. (Previously and previouslier on metafilter). Have there been any artworks - music, theater, fiction, etc. - inspired by this study?
posted by moonmilk to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This 99 Percent Invisible ends with a song about cats bred to change color in the presence of radioactivity.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:54 AM on August 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

(To be clear, this is not a real thing, this is the thought that you could do something like this, then saturate the culture with the idea by things like children's rhymes and songs.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:55 AM on August 25, 2016

Best answer: It's a major theme of John D'Agata's About a Mountain, which is not exactly fiction, but definitely not straight journalism either. More of an experimental book-length essay.
posted by theodolite at 9:57 AM on August 25, 2016

Response by poster: Someone actually recorded the color-changing kitty song, so that counts!

About a Mountain looks good - I've requested it from the library.
posted by moonmilk at 10:13 AM on August 25, 2016

Lincoln Child's Deep Storm is a thriller about people exploring an alien structure. The symbols on the outside of the structure it are translated and revealed to be impossible math equations (1/0, a^3+b^3=c^3, π=a/b, x=0^0), which leads them to believe it is a "STAY AWAY" warning of this type.
posted by Etrigan at 10:20 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that the book Riddley Walker is somewhat related to your question.
posted by LeeLanded at 10:21 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To clarify, I'm interested in work inspired by or based on this particular 1993 study.
posted by moonmilk at 10:22 AM on August 25, 2016

I don't know if any direct relationship is claimed, but a few years after the study, the Long Now Foundation appeared. Their projects include the ten-thousand-year clock, a new Rosetta Stone, library, and other long-future projects.
posted by anonymisc at 10:34 AM on August 25, 2016

Maybe I contrived the connection, but I thought there was a connection between that need for very long term warnings, and the Long Now Foundation, which is primarily concerned (it seems) with building a clock that'll run for 10,000 years. Their eon-long-term focus has more or less the same problems as using any kind of symbology to signal to future civilization, either primitive or advanced, that nuclear waste is dangerous, yo.

Dagnabbit, you beat me by seconds.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:34 AM on August 25, 2016

Neal Stephenson's Anathem was inspired (partly?) by the work that Longnow did.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:33 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

James Acord essentially devoted his life and art to attempting this task.
posted by mwhybark at 1:49 AM on August 26, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks - gonna read the Conrad novel too.
posted by moonmilk at 5:47 AM on August 28, 2016

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