CH: There’s a story that I know that people at The Long Now Foundation talk a lot about that seems really useful; it’s the one that Danny Hillis brought up when he first introduced his idea of the ten thousand-year clock about New College at Oxford.
AR: Yeah, the story went, [that] when New College was built in the [fourteenth century], it was the ‘new college’ at the time. It wasn’t until 500 years later in the 1800s when these big oak beams that went across the main dining hall were inspected and people realized that they’d become a bit rotted and infested with beetles. And they didn’t quite know what to do, because you couldn’t buy lumber like this in Europe anymore: the commercial forests had all been harvested.
It wasn’t until they spoke to the school forester who said “Oh, yeah, we have the trees that you planted.” And it turned out that when the school was built, there was also a grove of oak trees that had been planted that 500 years later could be harvested for exactly that purpose.