Arctic Code Vault

Today I learned that the code of some of my projects is printed on photographic film and buried in the Arctic. And if you've contributed to public projects on GitHub, yours probably is too.

Film roll of the Artic Code Vault

Our storage systems are much less durable than we tend to believe. CDs have a lifespan of about 10 years, while conventional hard drives last an average of 8 years, or slightly less in the case of SSDs. And if you have any floppy disks at home, they're probably already demagnetized.

There are more durable formats like the Blu-ray M-DISC, which, according to its creators, has a durability of 1000 years. However, if it's already difficult to find places to develop film rolls, there's no guarantee that CD readers will still be around by then.

That's why GitHub launched the Arctic Code Vault initiative, aimed at preserving the largest repository of human code in the Arctic World Archive. This facility is buried in an Arctic mountain at a depth of 250 meters, enough to avoid damage caused by nuclear weapons or EM pulses.

Arctic World Archive entrance

The goal of this bunker is to preserve the information necessary to rebuild humanity in the event of a global collapse. The island where it is located is part of Svalbard, an archipelago north of Norway that is considered a demilitarized zone by 42 countries.

The information is stored on transparent reels using a magnetic ink readable with a magnifying glass, expected to last between 500 and 1000 years. In case of a blackout, the mountain's own cold would maintain the temperature and humidity within a reasonable range for decades.

On February 2 this year, GitHub took a snapshot of public projects to convert them to this format. A total of 21TB of code that represents some of the most important contributions of recent years, from programming languages to complete operating systems.

To find out if your code is also in this bunker, just go to your GitHub profile and look for the Arctic Code Vault Contributor badge.


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