The Doomsday Seed Vault

Every once and a while (far too infrequently, if you ask me) something really sci-fi creeps out into the real world, and the opening of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, tunneled deep into the permafrost of the Norwegian Arctic, is one such example.

Think about it: not only does it LOOK like something one could imagine finding in a sci-fi novel or movie, but it’s stated purpose–to store seeds of key agricultural crops from around the globe so that in the event such crops are lost due to a man-made or natural apocalypse staples like rice, wheat, lentils, etc. can be reestablished–is the kind of grand foresight human beings are often possessed of only in fiction.

Even the building shows foresight: the roof and parts of the frontage of the visible entrance section are filled with triangles of high reflection, acid resistant steel of various sizes. Together with other refractive elements like dichroic mirror glass and prisms, they will throw light back in all directions, providing a dazzling reflection of sunlight and other lights, depending on season and time of day. So even if something happens and we end up back in the Stone Age people might see the building and think, “I wonder what’s in there?”

Very cool.

It kinda reminds me of nuclear waste site markers people like Gregory Benford have been asked to help design so that, should civilization collapse entirely and all knowledge of our atomic legacy be lost, people might somehow be warned that some very nasty and no-good-for-you material is stored here or there and should be avoided.

Somehow, though, I find the Global Seed Vault a lot more hopeful… 🙂

– S.

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  1. Pingback: Foresight and the Doomsday Seed Vault | Stephen Kotowych

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