A Look Inside the Tanks with Dr. Milton Thrumbull
Earth Archive File 1-003: Dr. Milton Thrumbull is delighted to showcase his breakthrough science in this educational clip packaged for children and investors.
Voices: Charlie Van Stee, Charles Hubbell.
Cover art by Robert James Algeo. Original music by Charlie Van Stee.
Illustrated Transcripts for every episode and in-between are available to all Patreon members.
And here is the plain text transcript:
A Look Inside the Tanks with Dr. Milton Thrumbull
NARRATOR: Hello, investors!
A chime sounds.
Music plays: a synth-y beat with uplifting xylophone.
MILTON: Hello, hello. I’m so glad you could make it.
NARRATOR: Where are we?
MILTON: We’re in my laboratory!
NARRATOR: Wow, Dr. Milton, this is quite the place.
MILTON: Come! Come, I want to show you my most prized scientific breakthrough technology!
NARRATOR: Oh boy!
Music fades out.
WHIRRING fades in.
MILTON: Here it is! What do you think?
NARRATOR: Well, it just looks like a giant, scary fridge.
MILTON: Well, I suppose it kind of is. It’s a long-term storage tank for our colonization mission!
NARRATOR: Surely that can’t be your namesake breakthrough.
MILTON: You’re quite insightful–
NARRATOR: –THANK YOU!
MILTON: I’m going to show you what’s inside this giant freezer.
NARRATOR: Is it ice cream?
MILTON: Not at all.
The lid POPs open. HISS. The hum of the tank grows.
Slime plops. Glass clinks.
NARRATOR: It… It…
NARRATOR: It looks like jelly. Just full of jelly.
MILTON: You’re so observant. Yes! This is my proudest achievement in science.
NARRATOR: But Dr. Milton, you have so many!
The refrigerator hum fades out.
MILTON: Do you know what’s encapsulated in the goo?
MILTON: The goo contains millions and millions of strands of DNA.
NARRATOR: That’s a lot!
MILTON: It is. It needs to be a lot. After all, we are delivering all of the world’s information, and we need room for redundancy–
MILTON: Room for error.
NARRATOR: Wait a second, you said it’s DNA.
MILTON: What’s the matter?
NARRATOR: Isn’t DNA the genetic make up of a living organism?
MILTON: You’re correct. It is the code that tells a cell what to do, a body what it will be.
NARRATOR: Then where are you keeping all of the world’s information that isn’t genetic?
MILTON: On these very same DNA strands!
NARRATOR: Wow! You can do that?
MILTON: We absolutely can. We can code any information on a DNA strand, and, as long as it stays fairly cold, DNA molecules outlast any other known method of storing data.
NARRATOR: Even computer chips? Hard drives? Cloud storage?
MILTON: Yes. It even stores much more data much more compactly than any of our electronic methods. One gram of DNA stores 215 petabytes of data.
NARRATOR: That sounds like a ton of data!
MILTON: Yes. Yes, it does.
NARRATOR: Say, Milton, doesn’t all data deteriorate over time?
MILTON: You don’t know the words redundancy or encapsulate but you know about data deterioration?
MILTON: Yes, you are correct. That’s where redundancy comes in. Over the centuries of waiting it will do before the colonization of distant planets can begin, if one DNA strand randomly mutates and loses its original coding, we can compare it to the other strands encoded with the same information to correct itself. This is how cells in living organisms do it, too.
NARRATOR: This sounds pretty neat and all, but…
MILTON: But what?
NARRATOR: What’s your contribution to this noble goal?
MILTON: Well, have you heard of quantum entanglement?
MILTON: …Yes. Entanglement–the pairing of two particles, despite distance over spacetime, when one is observed, the other one, seemingly instantaneously, will ‘know’ how its pair looked, and will act accordingly.
NARRATOR: I’m just a humble investor, Dr.
MILTON: All you need to know is that, despite space and time, no matter how far our ships go from Earth, the data that’s entangled will be shared instantaneously. Much faster than the speed of light.
NARRATOR: What does this have to do with the goo?
MILTON: You know how we talked about data deterioration?
NARRATOR: It’s unavoidable.
MILTON: Well, entangling the DNA strands in the ships with the DNA strands on Earth means that we don’t have to worry about the ravages of time corrupting our precious DNA! The DNA does not get encoded until the mission is ready to start. All of the information is kept safe, ready to be retrieved in the distant future when our new colony planets are up-to-snuff.
NARRATOR: That sounds complicated.
MILTON: It is. But it’s an important breakthrough. Our colonization effort stands a much better chance of surviving after we’re gone. The information will be there, no matter how bad it could get on any one ship, or even Earth. It’s kind of similar to the cloud system of storage. All of the information is retrievable as long as one tank survives.
NARRATOR: Isn’t that a lot of entanglement?
MILTON: Yes, yes, it is. But remember: At first, scientists could entangle photons–tiny particles of light. Then we could do it with diamonds. And living bacteria, entangled with each other. Now, we’re doing it with all of the data we can muster up before the space ships depart.
NARRATOR: That’s amazing, Dr. Milton!
MILTON: Isn’t it? It’s the hope of all of humanity, the future of all Earth, and we stand a decent chance of seeing it all flourish again one day on a distant planet.
NARRATOR: On behalf of all of Xenoa’s investors, and heck, the entire world, thanks, Dr. Milton!
MILTON: No, no, thank you. You all are the reason mankind has reached the heights it has. We will not be rid of so easily.
NARRATOR: And how.
MILTON: Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a space ship to catch!
NARRATOR: Safe travels, Doctor!
MILTON: Oh, and one more thing.
MILTON: I showed you what’s inside this tank, but once we shut them, we can never open them again. Once we come into contact with them, that’s how they dis-entangle. And we can’t have that.
NARRATOR: Not even a peek to make sure they’re okay?
MILTON: The tanks will take care of that. Absolutely no looking.
NARRATOR: It’s the least we can do for our favorite scientist!
NARRATOR: Xenoa Luxury Space Resort.
NARRATOR: For tomorrow, from today.