Moon Monument

As I fade into the new year, I would like to share my “big idea” for humankind’s greatest and most enduring monument, an “albedo” enterprise.

Thirty years ago, I was a “start up” operator at our local Titanium Dioxide factory. When we built the place someone didn’t get the logic quite right in the controls for the pneumatic conveying valves and the main header for transporting the TiO2 powder into the storage bins would dead head (one valve would completely shut before the valve on the next bin started to open) when we switched bins. All that energy had to go somewhere, so poof, the pressure relief valves would open and that eight story building would disappear in a dust cloud of the whitest substance in nature, titanium dioxide.

I was the graveyard-shift field operator on one of those occasions and found myself alone atop the packing building under a full moon after the dust had settled. The effect was remarkable, a large area around the building where the TiO2 dust had settled was brightly glowing from the full moon’s reflected light. Beyond the dust perimeter, nothing but the blackest night.

I looked up at the moon and suddenly it occurred to me that the surface of that satellite was not white at all, just grayish brown dirt.

the genesis of my idea.

The thinest layer of TiO2 dust spread across a large area of the moon’s surface would permanently increase the amount of light reflected by an immense magnitude.

At that moment I thought it was an idea about multiplying the amount of the sun’s useful energy reaching the surface of the earth; illumination at night when we need it without any additional heat.

Many years later the idea evolved into the “moon monument”. Instead of just an even spreading of the dust, it could be used to encode information. And using the photo mosaic concept, closer inspection would reveal additional information.

Perhaps I’ve read too many post-apocalyptic novels, but I expect that like all the civilizations that have gone before us, ours will eventually fall. Hopefully our species will not become extinct and at some point in the far flung future our primitive progeny will look to the night sky and see the lever, the incline plane, the wheel and axle, the wedge, the screw and the pulley.

When they eventually develop magnifying lenses, closer inspection will reveal the pythagorean theorem, the periodic table and much, much more.

Well, that’s the idea in a nutshell. It has been a great conversation starter for many years. Lots of fun to hear which ideas and information folks think are worth preserving for time immemorial.

The Long Time Project

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