Norway has opened a doomsday vault to house the world's most precious books

Piql staffPiqlPiql staff members.

At this moment, there is a collection of every known crop on the planet embedded nearly 1,000 feet underground, shrouded in the icy arms of Norway’s Svalbard mountain.

This stockpile is known as the Global Seed Vault, and it just got a new neighbour.

A Norwegian company called Piql (pronounced “pickle”) recently announced it’s building the World Arctic Archive. The collection is like the Global Seed Vault, only it preserves digital data — primarily historical and cultural documents — instead of food.

Millions of pages of records, books, letters, and manuscripts will find their way into the doomsday library archives, which officially opened on March 27.

Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand says the company is storing all that data on special film reels, which effectively turn the letters into ones and zeroes that can be represented in gigantic QR codes. These codes are invulnerable to hacking, as they’re effectively “carved in stone,” Bjerkestrand told LiveScience.

Film reel piqlPiqlThe Piql film reel used to store important data.

Clients who wish to use the archives can put in a request to Piql to store their documents. Once the data gets housed, the client can only retrieve it by asking Piql staff to manually unearth it, before uploading it online.

Piql believes its technology can preserve film for at least 1,000 years — although, technically the idea is it can last forever. The archive will live in a mineshaft inside Svalbard, where permafrost keeps the temperatures right around freezing.

Bjerkestrand says a cold and dry climate is ideal for preserving film.

Svalbard Global Seed VaultMari Tefre/Svalbard Globale frøhvelv/FlickrThe Global Seed Vault, a next-door neighbour of the new data vault.

One other perk: The mountain is located on a demilitarized zone. Even if the apocalypse happens and global war threatens the future of humanity, at least Piql’s reels (and the neighbouring food stores) will be safe.
Not that anyone would be around to read (or eat) them.

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