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The Pyramids of Our Time?

Posted by Josh Rothman  November 4, 2010 10:59 AM

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Into Eternity, a new documentary from Finland, goes inside the Finnish Yucca Mountain - a huge underground facility called Onkalo, or "hiding place." It's a series of tunnels which burrow more than 1,700 feet underground, where the Finnish government plans to store nuclear waste for more than 100,000 years. To put it into perspective, 100,000 years ago, Neanderthals roamed the earth.

Finland has committed to storing all of its nuclear waste within its own borders, and leads the world in the construction of a nuclear waste repository. It's very challenging, perhaps even impossible, to create a geologically secure repository. And it must be human-proof, as well. As director Michael Madsen puts it:

[H]ow is it possible to warn our descendants of the deadly waste we left behind? How do we prevent them from thinking they have found the pyramids of our time, mystical burial grounds, hidden treasures?

Unless we can find a way to create wasteless nuclear energy, we'll have to learn to think long-term on an unbelievable scale.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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