Let's be honest; we're fucked. We're burning through resources, doing irreparable damage to the environment and inventing ever-more efficient ways of offing each other. Humanity's days are numbered.
Atheist-in-chief Richard Dawkins thinks so too, and reckons we should all be planning for our eventual demise by putting together a "cosmic tombstone" -- a lasting monument to humanity's achievements and failures to stand for all eternity, in the hope that some intergalactic alien race may one day spare a thought for our loss. In an article with The Skeptic magazine, Dawkins said:
I sometimes think that even now actually we should be sending out what you could call a ‘cosmic tombstone’ because eventually the human species is going to go extinct and it would be nice to think that Shakespeare and Bach and Darwin and Einstein – the achievements of the great humans of history – would not die with us. And so sending out a cosmic tombstone in the vague, faint, infinitesimal hope that it might one day be picked up, it really is infinitesimal by the way, I think that might well be a good idea.
As much a time capsule as a tombstone, Dawkins's suggestions for inclusion read like a "Best of" collection for mankind. But it's a bit high brow too -- no room for The Beatles? Warhol? The ramblings of Kanye West? His tweets would certainly act as a cautionary note to any space travellers. What would you send out among the stars? And while we're at it, how should the epitaph on humanity's tombstone read? Here's one to get you started, from the perspective of the Earth, and inspired by the late, great Spike Milligan's own headstone:
"I TOLD YOU I WAS ILL." [Guardian]