A PICTURE OF TODAY FOR
A WORLD 5000 YEARS AWAY
rJ^ SEVEN-FOOT torpedo-shaped tube of copper alloy, containing more than 100 items documenting the life of the world today, was recently lowered into a 50ft well at the Westinghouse Building site on the New York World's Fair grounds, to carry a picture of the year 1938 to some incredibly distant year—nominally 5000 years hence. The tube, which has been named the "Time Capsule," will be on view through a periscope during the period, of the World's Fair; afterwards it will be sealed in position by means of pitch and concrete, poured into the well. It has been built of materials which are calculated to last for 5000 years, and its discovery by the archae. ologists of the future has been arranged for, it is hoped, by the wide dissemination of books of record which will go to libraries all over the world to guide scientists to the spot . when the correct time has arrived. Included in the capsule ■ are seven reels of film. Into four reels of microfilm are compressed more than ten million words and a thousand pictures, and there are also three newsreels prepared by RKO-Pathe Pictures, to show the high lights of the news of 1938. "Within the limitations imposed by space," said Mr. D. S. Youngholm, Tice-president of the Westinghouse Electric Company and chairman of the World's Fair Committee, "it has, been our desire to touch upon the principal categories of -our modern life in all its variety and vigour. To this end, historians, teachers, editors, archaeologists, engineers, scientists, artists, critics, and commentators have offered advice and suggestions. Out of the thousands of proposals submitted the commitree has chosen what it considers truly representative of bur era." The items chosen for the capsule fall into four general categories. First ' come the objects in common use. About thirty-five in number, these are separately classified and described. They include a can opener, a woman's hat, a Bible, a toothbrush, a safetypin, a pipe, children's blocks, a camera, cigarettes, a fountain pen and a pencil, and similar items, wrapped in pure rag paper with their identification, and tied with' linen thread. The next division comprises about fifty small samples of textiles, seeds,
and common materials. It includes bits of wool, silk, cotton and rayon, plastics, coal, asbestos, cement, metals, alloys, rubber, and the like. Seeds are sealed in airtight glass tubes, with the hope that they may blossom again five thousand years hence.
The third section, the newsreel, is devoted to characteristic scenes of modern times. Produced by special methods on permanent acetate film by RKO-Pathe, this fifteen-minute newsreel depicts President Roosevelt speaking at Gettysburg, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the famous battle of the Civil War; Howard
Hughes, the aviator, returning from his record three-day 19-hour trip around the world; Jesse Owens, negro athlete, winning the 100-metre dash in the 1936 Olympics; a collegiate football game between Harvard and Yale; a Big League baseball game. It also shows the United States fleet engaging in war games; the Soviet celebration of May Day in Red Square, Moscow; United States sham war manoeuvres; the bombing of Canton by Japanese airmen, a fashion show in New York; and a preview of the World's Fair.
The core of the "cross-section of
civilisation," however, lies in the three*
and a half reels of microfilm, actually an "essay" covering in detail the major achievements and knowledge of today. Reproduced in miniature, it may be.easily read with a small microscope included in the capsule, or on projection machines, instructions for the building of which precede each reel.
The 1100-foot "nutshell of knowledge" is a liberal education in itself. A man reading the material represented—if he kept at'his task eight hours a day, five days a week —would require more than a year to finish it, and at least a decade to assimilate all the information stored away on the transparent strips.
The "micro-file'" comprises the equivalent of more than 100 thick volumes of fine print and includes more than 1000 pictures. Complete books, such as "Gone With the Wind/ by Margaret Mitchell, "Arrowsmith," by Sinclair Lewis, and "Freud, Goethe, and Wagner," by Thomas Mann, have been carefully microphotographed in their entirety. The Encyclopaedia Britannica has contributed some of its most significant' sections. The "World Almanac" and a Sears, Roebuck mailorder catalogue have been "shot" from cover to cover. Art is represented by reproductions of modern paintings by Picasso, Mondrian, Dali, and Wood, as well as Orozc'o frescoes. Music is represented by the scores of Sibelius's "Finlandia," Sousa's "Stars and Stripes
Forever." and "The Flat Foot Floogee," by Gaillard, Stewart, and Green.
The summary of the sciences and industries takes up more than half of the microfilm, with complete scenes, descriptions, and information upon transportation, communication, chemistry, metallurgy, physics, astronomy, geology, electricity, and medicine. Religion and philosophy, as well as education, have separate sections. Customs, habitats, and manner of living are described in detail, as well as radio, jtheatres, motion pictures, and allied entertainments.
More than two score popular magazines and all of New York's leading newspapers, cartoons, and Sunday "funny, papers," railway and. airway time-tables, were filmed for posterity.
Messages from Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Robert A. Millikan, and Karl T. Compton to the people of A.D. 6939 were included.
Einstein's letter, written in German, sums up his impression of the modern age in 161 words. The authorised English translation follows:
"Our time is rich in inventive minds, the inventions of which could facilitate our lives considerably. We are crossing the seas by power and utilise power also in order to relieve humanity from all tiring muscular work. We have learned to fly and we are able to send messages and news without any difficulty over the entire world through electric waves.
"However, the production and distribution of commodities is entirely unorganised, so that everybody must live in fear of being eliminated from the economic cycle, in this way suffering for the want of everything. Furthermore, people living in different countries kill each other at .irregular time intervals, so that also for this reason anyone who thinks about the future must live in fear and terror. This is due to the fact that the intelligence and character of the masses are incomparably lower than: the intelligence and character of the few who produce something valuable for the community. .
"I trust that posterity will read these statements with a feeling of proud and justified superiority."
The packing of the capsule was done under the guidance of the United States Bureau of Standards. The film was enclosed in special circular spunaluminium containers, lined with rag ledger paper. The spools were wound on one-inch cores made of heavy laboratory glass tubing. Documents included were written in permanent ink on special paper. The l'elative position of each object in the ci*ypt was chosen according to the weight of the object: the heaviest items were packed at the bottom, the lightest at the top, so that nothing will be crushed by the weight of the centuries. The i contents of the crypt are preserved in nitrogen. All oxygen, which produces rusting and deterioration of metals and materials, has been removed.
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