February 22, 2024
T-05: Memory Disc
Celebrating the essence of home in a galactic context, Monolith features a unique component known as the Memory Disc. Made from revolutionary NanoFiche technology, it serves as a focal point at the intersection of culture, technology and spirituality. Barrelhand, as the first watch company since the Apollo program, is participating in a mission to the Moon (as part of Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission) to deliver version 1 of the Memory Disc to the lunar surface, preserving its contents for millions of years.

The journey outward becomes a journey inward

Space exploration has long been synonymous with the desire to venture into the unknown, pushing the boundaries of our understanding and capabilities. It is a journey into the future, marked by technological advancements and innovative ideas that drive progress. Looking outward, space exploration is also a testament to our collective ability to dream, envision, beyond our home planet.

As we gaze towards the stars, space exploration also invites us to look inward and to reflect on our place in the cosmos. The "Overview Effect," experienced by astronauts who see Earth from space, exemplifies this dual perspective. The sight of our fragile blue planet suspended in the vastness of space has a profound impact, fostering a sense of interconnectedness and responsibility. This inward gaze prompts us to contemplate our origins, our shared humanity, and the delicate balance that sustains life on Earth.

In this context, space missions transcend mere technical endeavors; they take us on a deeply spiritual and psychological dimension. Beyond the scientific goals, they offer a unique opportunity for introspection and self-discovery. The journey outward becomes a journey inward, as we grapple with fundamental questions about our existence and our role in the universe.

Can you spot the “Pale Blue Dot”? This photograph of planet Earth was captured by NASA’s Voyager 1 on February 14th, 1990 at a distance of 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from the sun.

Preserving our collective wealth of information

In the context of space, human consciousness is a small candle in the vast darkness. The enormity of the cosmos, both in its temporal and spatial dimensions, challenges us to think beyond the constraints of the present, highlighting the imperative of preserving our knowledge and culture for generations and civilizations to come. 

Despite the apparent abundance of data storage in the digital age, available systems today are in fact highly fragile. This vulnerability poses a risk to the resilience of our accumulated knowledge, as disruptions from magnetic interference, extreme temperatures or the simple passage of time can compromise the stability and integrity of digital archives. Addressing these vulnerabilities becomes critical to ensure enduring accessibility and reliability in preserving our collective wealth of information .

NanoFiche is a revolutionary technology developed by Stamper Technologies, under the leadership of Bruce Ha, that addresses this challenge and allows for the long-term and analog preservation of information. It combines space-grade quality, lightweight design, high durability, and resilience against extreme environmental conditions. 

Using a laser to nano engrave content onto a nickel plate enables the storage of over 1000 book pages and high res images worth of information or approximately 4.5GB on a compact 19x19mm disc. Unlike other storage methods, nickel-based NanoFiche is degradation-resistant and everlasting. Whether exposed to solar flares, magnetic fields or extreme temperatures - nickel's non-oxidizing properties, absence of a half-life, and resilience to various elements make it capable of enduring for millions of years on Earth and beyond. 

In the context of extended periods and evolving environments, ensuring easy data retrieval is another feature that is paramount. Many current data storage methods demand additional tools for decoding (think digital storage or vinyl records). However, with NanoFiche, information is readily visible to the naked eye and through simple magnification, making it easily accessible anywhere, anytime. 

NanoFiche Stack with Barrelhand Memory Disc version 1.

The Monolith Memory Disc

Watchmaking has a long tradition of crafting both functional instruments and cherished personal companions. Monolith embraces this dual nature as a rugged toolwatch while also aspiring to explore the spiritual and psychological dimensions of space travel.

Integrated into the caseback of Monolith is a 19mm diameter plaque known as Memory Disc, which is made using NanoFiche and sealed with a layer of sapphire. Although the specifications and capabilities of the technology are groundbreaking, developing a meaningful concept for its application has proven to be a distinct challenge. 

In the realm of travel and adventure, the notion of home takes on a unique significance. As we venture farther, our understanding of where we originate evolves, offering diverse perspectives that reshape our perception of what home truly means. In the context of space exploration, this takes on an even more profound scale.

“The Memory Disc has been designed to celebrate the essence of home in a galactic context. Home can be associated with many things - such as a physical location, friends and family, a particular period in time, or even a state of mind. However, we believe that inherently home may be described in terms of relationships. We have therefore curated various cultural heirlooms to symbolize four distinct relationships essential to all of humanity. In doing so, we are not asserting any form of universal truth; on the contrary, the Memory Disc is open to interpretation. It invites diverse perspectives and is meant to ignite fresh ideas. It may continuously evolve.”  

- Nicolas Klaus, Partner & Communications at Barrelhand

The relationship to ourselves

The concept of home is intricately woven into the fabric of human existence, reflecting the intimate relationship we have with ourselves. This connection becomes particularly apparent in the realm of children's stories. These tales serve as symbolic mirrors reflecting our moral values, perspectives, and identity. As we share stories with our children, we engage in a timeless tradition that transcends cultural boundaries. Children's stories carry a dual temporal significance, looking both backward and forward: they are backward-looking, encapsulating the narratives that shaped our own childhoods, and forward-looking as we carefully choose and craft stories to guide future generations. In this dynamic interplay between the past and the future, the concept of home emerges as a metaphor for the evolving relationship we maintain with ourselves, rooted in the stories we inherit and the narratives we choose to pass on.

As a representation of children's stories, we have chosen a novella that we feel is widely beloved around the world and destills a timeless sense of optimism – Le Petit Prince by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Aside from its universal acclaim, Le Petit Prince is also one of the most translated books in the world, transcending cultural and geographic boundaries and, in our view, providing a sense of unity that we feel matches the purpose of the Memory Disc. 

Barrelhand has secured the worldwide distribution license from US publisher HarperCollins - a world’s first for this medium.

The relationship to each other

The concept of home is also intricately intertwined with our relationships to each other as humans. Language, in particular, emerges as a powerful symbol of this interconnectedness. It serves as both the foundation of human interaction and a defining element of our individual identities. Through language, we not only communicate but also share our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It is a medium that shapes and reflects our collective understanding, creating a sense of belonging and shared culture.

To symbolize this fundamental relationship, we have therefore chosen a variety of languages. Specifically, we have incorporated the timeless and aspirational Latin saying Per Aspera Ad Astra (“through hardships to the stars”), translated into 70 unique languages.

The relationship to our environment

Our relationship with the environment, within the context of the concept of home, finds a compelling symbol in the realm of art. Art serves as a profound synthesis of our unique identity and perception with the external world, reflecting our interconnectedness with the environment that surrounds us. Through artistic expression, we transform our experiences, emotions, and observations into a tangible and collectively shared representation that reflects our connection to the world we inhabit.

For the Memory Disc, we have therefore curated a selection of paintings from various eras and geographies; included are both well-known cultural treasures and lesser known gems. 

Furthermore, Barrelhand has partnered with children’s hospitals, youth outreach programs and orphanages throughout California and Berlin - two locations that are also linked to the identity of Barrelhand. Under the theme “draw the future”, they have collectively contributed more than 300 children’s drawings from which 12 were selected to be included.

The relationship to space

As a symbol for our collective relationship with space, we have created a tribute to the Voyager  golden record. This disc was mounted to the Voyager 1 Satellite launched by NASA on September 5th 1977 and has now traveled beyond our solar system, making it the farthest object ever created by humans. 

The original Voyager Golden Record was developed as a form of interstellar message, intended to convey a snapshot of Earth's diversity and culture to potential extraterrestrial life. The record contains a selection of sounds and images representing aspects of human life, including greetings in various languages, music, and information about Earth's location in the universe. Our tribute to the original voyager disc includes artifacts that help any civilization (future or extraterrestrial) translate basic information such as our units of measurement/mathematics, our location in the cosmos, and the year in which the disc was built.

This may seem straightforward, but it's important to note that future civilizations may not use the same languages/units so everything must be built off universal symbols. For example, the units of measurement are represented and converted into multiple formats, from physical dots, to numbers and in binary. This understanding of our binary and number system allows them to decode our measuring system by showing a scale representation of the disc with associated dimensions. The binary system also allows the decoding of our position in the cosmos through a map which shows relative positions of neighboring stars and their pulsars. Lastly we get to the concept of time. How do you tell another civilization what year this was made? Simply stating 2024 would be meaningless relative to the larger time scale of the cosmos. To resolve this we created a symbolic “clock” of our solar system with the precise position of all planets and the moon at the time of the disc's creation. This unique identifier allows the date to be determined whether they know our calendar system or not.

Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lunar lander in the company's Lunar Production and Operations Center in Houston. Image credit: Intuitive Machines Inc.

Intuitive Machines IM-1 Mission to the Moon

The Memory Disc is now going to the moon, making Barrelhand the first watch company to participate in a moon mission since the Apollo program. Version 1 of the Memory Disc design (part of the NanoFiche stack in the Lunaprise payload) is heading to the lunar surface on the IM-1 mission, scheduled to land on February 22 at 2:48 PST.

This serves to permanently preserve our slice in human history while also performing further hardware testing for Monolith. A carbon copy of this Memory Disc will be integrated into every Monolith caseback, creating a lasting connection to home and its lunar counterpart for the wearer.

IM-1 represents a pioneering mission with the ambitious goal of establishing a thriving commercial lunar economy. It aims to deliver both commercial payloads and NASA science and technology payloads, laying the foundation for a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon. This mission strives to achieve a significant milestone as the first U.S. vehicle to gently land on the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Intuitive Machines' Nova-C moon lander named Odysseus ("Odie" for short) lifted off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday (February 15). Odysseus has so far successfully detached from the Falcon 9 rocket, and is currently on a direct trajectory to the Moon. The goal is for Odysseus to gracefully touch down on the lunar surface following approximately a seven day journey.

After half a century since the Apollo program, this mission is not only a historic return to the Moon, but also heralds the dawn of a space renaissance. Unlike in the past, space exploration is no longer solely the realm of governments; it has now become a sphere dominated by private enterprise. This shift promises a future of more dynamic, accessible, and diverse space missions. Barrelhand aspires to be at the forefront of this new space age by fostering collaborations with pioneers across different domains, inviting them to join us in opening up new industries and minds.

We also continue to pioneer the future of NanoFiche technology, actively collaborating with innovative partners to explore new applications and missions. This commitment to advancement is not just about technological innovation, but about crafting a legacy that bridges generations through the preservation of our collective cultural heritage.

Bruce Ha, inventor of the NanoFiche technology, explores the content on the Memory Disc at his facility in New York.
Our co-founder Michael Sorkin working on the layout for the Memory Disc. 
Layout of the Memory Disc (bottom left) and Monolith prototype with integrated Memory Disc in its caseback (center).
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