Thursday, February 09, 2006

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

As a kid I was often entertained by stories of shipwrecked sailors sending messages in bottles, or wealthy eccentrics putting their wills in bottles and throwing them in the water, with the finder inheriting their fortune. Hell, the Police even had a song about it. So I don’t fault anyone who fancies the idea of putting a message in a bottle to be found elsewhere at another time.

Not everyone feels this way. A man in New York threw a message in a bottle into the ocean last August and received this letter from England:
"I recently found your bottle while taking a scenic walk on the beach by Poole Harbour. While you may consider this some profound experiment on the path and speed" of "oceanic currents, I have another name for it, litter. You Americans don't seem to be happy unless you are mucking about somewhere." Link to story

While it would be easy to write this guy off as a stodgy stick in the mud, it does give one pause to think.

How much do we know about the early days of humanity from finding their trash? Broken pottery and arrowheads? All the results of our ancestors casting aside their refuse.

What happens when, millions of years from now, an advanced race finds a long-dead Earth, still orbited by long-dead satellites? What happens when they find the remains of our civilizations?

I wonder if they’ll say, “I’m sure they were nice enough people, but they sure did junk up the place.”

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