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Dennis E. Taylor
06-09-2016, 05:00 AM
I realize this will be sheer speculation, but maybe someone has some related experience/knowledge. I'm wondering how well a piece of paper (or a notepad) would survive a long time in vacuum. Also, how would any writing (done in ink) survive? I'm thinking maybe drying up like the dead sea scrolls? Or would paper act more like something non-biological?

And what about in an atmosphere, cool and dry?

jennontheisland
06-09-2016, 08:07 AM
Vacuum packing is used as a form of preservation. Things in vacuums will probably last longer because there's no air for bacteria or fungus, and there's no oxygen to cause anything to oxidize (oxygen is very good at breaking things down). Only consideration would be radiation. UV will breakdown chemical bonds, like those in ink, and cause paper to yellow, and some foods to spoil, even if they're vacuum sealed. Vacuum packed in mylar is how Preppers (and long distance hikers/campers) like their food.

Cool and dry are not good environments for bacteria, so better than typical, but not as good as a vacuum.

WeaselFire
06-11-2016, 06:21 PM
In a true vacuum, the only things affecting paper or ink would be radiation, such as heat or light. If it's cold and dark, nothing to affect the paper or ink. If it's above Fahrenheit 451, then Ray Bradbury returns from the dead. Or maybe it just burns, depends on genre I guess...

Jeff

GeorgeK
06-11-2016, 07:53 PM
In a true vacuum, the only things affecting paper or ink would be radiation, such as heat or light. If it's cold and dark, nothing to affect the paper or ink. If it's above Fahrenheit 451, then Ray Bradbury returns from the dead. Or maybe it just burns, depends on genre I guess...

JeffBut vacuum means no oxygen. I don't think the paper would burn at 451, but I also don't think it would be unscathed. That would be an interesting experiment.

Dennis E. Taylor
06-11-2016, 08:38 PM
Hmm, context: Investigating a space station that's open to vacuum, searchers find a spiral-bound notebook that is, essentially, a diary. It'll turn out to be thousands of years old. I know on Earth that would be implausible, but I'm not sure if it would be acceptable in a vacuum environment.

AW Admin
06-11-2016, 09:06 PM
Hmm, context: Investigating a space station that's open to vacuum, searchers find a spiral-bound notebook that is, essentially, a diary. It'll turn out to be thousands of years old. I know on Earth that would be implausible, but I'm not sure if it would be acceptable in a vacuum environment.

The metal or plastic spirals will shatter; it's cold out there.

The paper will be briefly legible (depending on various variables), but many inks will flake off after extreme cold exposure. Friction based pigments (lead, graphite, charcoal) are typically even less durable.

The paper, assuming it's actual paper, will be damaged once it thaws. You won't have very long to work with it. The fiber (specifically the cellulose) will start to break down. The time you have will depend on the quality of the paper. Paper absorbs and releases moisture depending on temperature and humidity; this can make fibers expand and contract to the point where the paper will shrink or curl, and even start to break down.

Once the notebook is recovered the key will be to maintain as close as possible the temperature and humidity under which it was preserved.

Dennis E. Taylor
06-11-2016, 10:24 PM
That's actually good. They won't be able to just flip open and start reading, they'll have to go through hoops. That slows down the revelation of detail.

Catherine_Beyer
06-12-2016, 07:48 AM
It wouldn't even necessarily be implausible on earth. We have some writing on papyrus from ancient Egypt that has survived thousands of years. They were stored in the dark in a very dry climate. It does happen.

AW Admin
06-12-2016, 07:58 AM
It wouldn't even necessarily be implausible on earth. We have some writing on papyrus from ancient Egypt that has survived thousands of years. They were stored in the dark in a very dry climate. It does happen.

Even after burning papyrus, if you can unroll the scroll in controlled conditions, it's possible to xray the scroll and pick up the carbon left behind by the ink, then use digital imaging to reconstruct the scroll. This has been especially successful with the papyri from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

More recent xray techniques (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/20/words-ancient-scrolls-eruption-vesuvius-x-ray-herculaneum) have meant that we don't even have to unroll (and damage further) the burned scroll.