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Time capsule

Time capsule

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A time capsule is an historic cache
Treasure trove
A treasure trove may broadly be defined as an amount of money or coin, gold, silver, plate, or bullion found hidden underground or in places such as cellars or attics, where the treasure seems old enough for it to be presumed that the true owner is dead and the heirs undiscoverable...

 of goods or information, usually intended as a method of communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

 with future people and to help future archaeologists, anthropologists, or historians. Time capsules are sometimes created and buried during celebrations such as a World's Fair
World's Fair
World's fair, World fair, Universal Exposition, and World Expo are various large public exhibitions held in different parts of the world. The first Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All...

, a cornerstone
Cornerstone
The cornerstone concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or...

 laying for a building, or at other events.

Background



Intentional time capsules are placed on purpose and are usually intended to be opened or accessed at a particular future date.
The 1939 New York World's Fair
1939 New York World's Fair
The 1939–40 New York World's Fair, which covered the of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park , was the second largest American world's fair of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people...

 time capsule was created by Westinghouse
Westinghouse Electric (1886)
Westinghouse Electric was an American manufacturing company. It was founded in 1886 as Westinghouse Electric Company and later renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation by George Westinghouse. The company purchased CBS in 1995 and became CBS Corporation in 1997...

 as part of their exhibit. It was 90 inches long, with an interior diameter of 6.5 inches, and weighed 800 pounds. Westinghouse named the copper, chromium and silver alloy "Cupaloy", claiming it had the same strength as mild steel. It contained everyday items such as a spool of thread and doll, a Book of Record (description of the capsule and its creators), a vial of staple food
Staple food
A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on one or more staples...

 crop seeds, a microscope and a 15-minute RKO Pathé Pictures newsreel
Pathe News
Pathé Newsreels were produced from 1910 until the 1970s, when production of newsreels was in general stopped. Pathé News today is known as British Pathé and its archive of over 90,000 reels is fully digitised and online.-History:...

. Microfilm spools condensed the contents of a Sears Roebuck catalog, dictionary, almanac, and other texts. This first modern time capsule was followed in 1965 by a second capsule at the same site, but 10 feet to the north of the original. Both capsules are buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows Park, site of the Fair. Both the 1939 and 1965 Westinghouse Time Capsules
Westinghouse Time Capsules
The Westinghouse Time Capsules are two time capsules prepared by the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company: "Time Capsule I", created for the 1939 New York World's Fair; and "Time Capsule II", created for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Both are buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows Park,...

 are meant to be opened in 6939. More recently, in 1985, Westinghouse created a smaller, Plexiglass shell to be buried beneath the New York Marriott Marquis
New York Marriott Marquis
New York Marriott Marquis is a Marriott International hotel at 1535 Broadway opened in 1985 and was designed by architect John Portman. It is located in the heart of Times Square at Broadway and 45th Street. The hotel is famous for its high-tech elevators and atrium lobby rising 45 stories to The...

 hotel, in the heart of New York's theater district. However, this time capsule was never put in place.

The Crypt of Civilization
Crypt of Civilization
The Crypt of Civilization is a sealed airtight chamber located at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. The crypt consists of preserved artifacts scheduled to be opened in the year AD 8113...

 (1936) at Oglethorpe University
Oglethorpe University
Oglethorpe University is a private liberal arts college in Brookhaven, Georgia, an inner suburb of Atlanta. It was chartered in 1835 and named after James Edward Oglethorpe, the state's founder.-History:...

, scheduled to be opened in 8113, is generally regarded to be the first successful implementation of a modern time capsule, although it was not called a time capsule at the time. George Edward Pendray
George Edward Pendray
George Edward Pendray was an American public relations counselor, author, foundation executive, and an early advocate of rockets and spaceflight.-Early life:...

 is responsible for coining the term "time capsule."

During the socialist period in the USSR, many time capsules were buried with messages to the people who would live in the future communist society.

New Zealand developed a time capsule project called "Millennium Vault" for the turn of the 20th century. The project developers buried it beneath a pyramid.

Currently, four time capsules are "buried" in space. The two Pioneer Plaque
Pioneer plaque
The Pioneer plaques are a pair of gold-anodized aluminium plaques which were placed on board the 1972 Pioneer 10 and 1973 Pioneer 11 spacecraft, featuring a pictorial message, in case either Pioneer 10 or 11 are intercepted by extraterrestrial life...

s and the two Voyager Golden Record
Voyager Golden Record
The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for...

s have been attached to spacecraft for the possible benefit of spacefarers in the distant future. A fifth time capsule, the KEO
KEO
KEO is the name of a proposed space time capsule which was to have been launched in 2003 carrying messages from the citizens of present Earth to humanity 50,000 years from now, when it would re-enter Earth's atmosphere...

 satellite, will be launched in 2012, carrying individual messages from Earth's inhabitants addressed to earthlings around the year 52,000, when KEO will return to Earth.

The International Time Capsule Society
International Time Capsule Society
The International Time Capsule Society , based at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia, is an organization established to promote the study of time capsules...

 was created to maintain a global database of all existing time capsules.

Criticism


According to time capsule historian William Jarvis, most intentional time capsules usually do not provide much useful historical information: they are typically filled with "useless junk", new and pristine in condition, that tells little about the people of the time. Many time capsules today contain only artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

 of limited value to future historians. Historians suggest that items which describe the daily lives of the people who created them, such as personal notes, pictures, and documents, would greatly increase the value of the time capsule to future historians.

If time capsules have a museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

-like goal of preserving the culture of a particular time and place for study, they fulfill this goal very poorly in that they, by definition, are kept sealed for a particular length of time. Subsequent generations between the launch date and the target date will have no direct access to the artifacts and therefore these generations are prevented from learning from the contents directly. Therefore, time capsules can be seen, in respect to their usefulness to historians, as poorly implemented museums.

Historians also concede that there are many preservation
Historic preservation
Historic preservation is an endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historical significance...

 issues surrounding the selection of the media
Media (communication)
In communications, media are the storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data...

 to transmit this information to the future. Some of these issues include the obsolescence of technology and the deterioration of electronic and magnetic storage media, and possible language problems if the capsule is dug up in the distant future. Many buried time capsules are lost, as interest in them fades and the exact location is forgotten, or are destroyed within a few years by groundwater.

Archives and archival materials, including videos, might be the best types of time capsules, as long as the medium can still be used, or the data can be read by the latest technologies and software.

Films

  • The movies My Sassy Girl
    My Sassy Girl
    My Sassy Girl is a 2001 South Korean romantic comedy film directed by Kwak Jae-yong. It tells the story of a man's chance meeting with a drunk girl on the train which changes his life...

    (2001) and Knowing
    Knowing (film)
    Knowing is a 2009 American-British science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage. The project was originally attached to a number of directors under Columbia Pictures, but it was placed in turnaround and eventually picked up by Escape Artists. Production was financially...

    (2009) feature time capsules prominently as part of their plot. A time capsule was also used in the Disney hit movie, You Again.

Television

  • The episode "Mosquito Time" from the second season of the Canadian
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

     situation comedy
    Situation comedy
    A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue...

     Corner Gas
    Corner Gas
    Corner Gas is a Canadian television sitcom created by Brent Butt. The series ran for six seasons from 2004 to 2009. Re-runs still air on CTV and The Comedy Network in Canada; it formerly aired on WGN America in the United States....

    features a time capsule in its plot.
  • The episode entitled "Walls" in the second season of Cougar Town
    Cougar Town
    Cougar Town is an American television sitcom that premiered on ABC on September 23, 2009. The series focuses on a recently divorced woman in her forties facing the often humorous challenges, pitfalls and rewards of life's next chapter, along with her son, ex-husband, and friends who together make...

     features the characters searching a time capsule, hidden underground.
  • The episode "Reign of the Jellyfish" from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (season 1) features a time capsule in its plot.
  • The episode "Buried in Time" from SpongeBob SquarePants
    SpongeBob SquarePants
    SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series, created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. Much of the series centers on the exploits and adventures of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city of "Bikini Bottom"...

     Mr. Krabs buries a time capsule.
  • The episode "As Time Goes By" from M*A*S*H (the series' penultimate episode) features the crew of the 4077th burying some of their personal belongings in a capsule as a reminder to future generations of their war experiences.

External links