The Rosetta Disk

by guy keulemans on September 25, 2008

Some more information about the Rosetta Disk – I was just reading here about how 5 prototypes have been produced, each containing the book of Genesis translated into more than 1500 world languages. Produced by the company Norsam, these translations are micro-etched on a a single surface at the back needing a x750 optical microscope to read clearly. This etching is so fine that to the naked eye it only appears as a diffraction rainbow, such as you see on a CD-Rom. The article doesn’t say, but I assume the etching was done by laser. What the article does say is the prototypes were produced by a nickel cast of a silicon mold – which I find unbelievable that a silicon mold could hold such detail…..

The choice of the book of Genesis seems strange, considering its ethnocentric bias, until you consider that it is the most widely translated text in the world, and was chosen for practicality. Although its does hold a sort of metaphorical meaning for this project. Lets just hope tour future descendants don’t take it literally, awed as they may be by our facilities in linguistics and silicon molding…..

The top surface of the dics si worth discussing; it shows a brief written introduction to the disc in the worlds main 8 languages, twisting together in rapidlly decreasing spiral. A fairly nice expression of the disc’s content. This top surface has been blackened for contrast, unlike the pure nickel micro-etched back.

For me this project has great resonance becuase of my previous undergraduate design, the Trinumeric Dice, inspired by the same source (the Rosetta Stone, below) and conceived for the same reasons. I produced it before the Rosetta Disc was prototyped, but after its documented conception, not that I had heard of it at the time, but you can’t always be first out of the gates.

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