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Procedure for Unearthing, Opening and Examining the Capsules

The following instructions are contained within a stainless steel cylinder buried near the surface directly beneath the plinth of the Time Capsule Expo '70 monument:

Located here are two time capsules, identical in every respect, designated Time Capsule Expo '70. The final opening date for both capsules has been set at 5,000 years after the year 1970 AD, that is, 6970 AD. However, Capsule No. 2, which lies nearest to the surface, shall be opened in the year 2000 AD for the first time and every hundred years thereafter so that its contents may be examined and tested. Capsule No. 2 shall, after every examination, be re-sealed and re-buried, a record of its condition being kept in the uppermost inner compartment of the capsule, No. 29. Capsule No. 1 shall not be opened for any reason whatsoever before the year 6970 AD.


1 . Temperature Indication

A maximum-minimum thermometer in a stainless steel cylinder has been placed directly above the concrete enclosure of each capsule.

Backfill immediately above the enclosure should be removed with care so that vibration does not affect the accuracy of the temperature reading.
The thermometer should be read in the position in which it is found: In order to read the thermometer it is necessary only to remove the eight bolts fastening the lid of the cylinder. The reading should be taken and recorded immediately the lid is removed so that the reading will not be affected by external temperature.


  1. The temperature at the time of burial was 17.5ºC.
  2. The electrical wiring leading to the thermometer from the monument was used for remote re-setting of the thermometer after burial.

2 . Removing the Capsule Containers

Capsule No. 2 : Remove concrete enclosure and bentonite surrounding the capsule's steel container. Then raise the container (weight approx. 7.3 metric tons gross), taking care that the carrying lugs are not subjected to transverse stress.
Capsule No. 1 : After removing Capsule No. 2, remove its concrete support raft and the backfill beneath. On reaching Capsule No. 1 be sure to locate and read the maximum-minimum thermometer in the manner described above. Remove the heavy concrete enclosure of Capsule No. 1 before raising the steel container in the same manner as Capsule No. 2.


The following overall precautions should be taken at this stage of the operation :

After cutting off the lid of the steel container, remove the capsule and proceed as follows:

  1. The Outer Lid
    The outer lid is flanged and welded. It may be removed by cutting along the bevelled groove to a depth of 20-33 mm parallel to the flange.
  2. The Inner Lid
    1. a) Cut one of the nozzles 25-33mm from the top in order to release a sample of argon gas. The capsule is filled with argon gas at slightly above an atmospheric pressure of 1. Before proceeding further, test the sample for the presence of toxic gas or bacteria.
    2. b) If the test is satisfactory, replace an equal volume of argon gas to restore the atmosphere of the capsule to its original pressure. Then proceed to remove the inner lid.
    3. c) The lid is welded at right-angles to the body. Cut in a circular motion to a depth of l0-15mm.


Each capsule contains 2,098 items in 29 stainless steel compartments, three of which are weld-sealed.

  1. Remove fastening screws to release the upper compartment, No. 29.
  2. Remove pamphlet "Time Capsule Expo '70" which contains a list of contents and instructions for handling the capsule.
  3. Follow the instruction in the pamphlet to open the succeeding compartments.
  4. The pamphlet and other documentation provide a complete guide to the examination of the contents.


  1. All items are numbered. The number of each item and the number of the compartment in which it is located are shown in the "List of Contents." Every item should be checked against this list.
  2. It is important that all books and documents should be reproduced immediately after the capsule is opened.
    Note : This applies after the final opening of both capsules and the periodic opening of Capsule No. 2.
  3. Extreme care should be exercised in the handling of items of a special nature, especially the sample of plutonium oxide, Pu2O5, and the plutonium timekeeper – both are stored in special containers and each contains approximately 1 gram of Pu239. The plutonium timekeeper is designed to operate at 27ºC and an atomospheric pressure of 1. These conditions should be maintained when the clock is inspected. Care should be taken to avoid damaging the bellows.
  4. Special care should also be taken in the handling of poisons (tetrodotoxin), drugs and agricultural chemicals. These are stored in limited quantities in glass ampoules in quartz glass tubes.
  5. In addition to small quantities of assorted plant seeds, the capsules contain microorganisms such as bacteria useful to man and a colony of phage. These are stored in quartz or hardened glass tubes. All were freeze-dried after cultivation in germ-free laboratories and are therefore in a suspended state. These should be handled in the manner prescribed in the instructions attached to the sample. Under no circumstances should microorganisms be exposed to a non-sterile atmosphere.
  6. It should be noted that, in some cases, alternative materials were substituted for rubber and vinyl chloride which, when used as component parts, may have affected the condition of the whole item. Any such substitution is noted in the List of Contents.


A number of items were recorded on various forms of recording media, including microfilm, motion picture film and magnetic tape. Information has been provided on the operating principles of the reproduction devices involved. Although it is realised that these devices will be considered primitive by the standards of the future, it is hoped that they will be of scientific as well as historic interest. The reproduction devices being used today are as follows:

MicrofilmMicrofilm Reader
Magnetic tape**Tape Recorder
FilmSound Motion Picture Projector
Phonograph record**Record Player

**Both provide stereo reproduction. The magnetic tape is recorded in both directions for a total of two hours' playing time.


It is our wish that Capsule No. 2 be opened, examined, re-sealed and re-buried every 100 years. The first opening shall take place in the year 2000 AD.

If techniques for burying the capsule superior to those originally used are developed later, it is hoped that they will be used for that purpose so that the physical environment of the capsule may be constantly upgraded. It is desired, however, that the capsule itself should remain in its original form until the final opening in the year 6970 AD.

The following basic stipulations must be observed:

  1. Time Capsule No. 2 shall be preserved in its original form.
  2. The items contained therein shall be sterilized and sealed in a sterile environment before being replaced in the capsule.
  3. The capsule shall always be re-sealed by welding.
  4. The capsule shall be refilled with argon gas.
  5. A record shall be kept of the handling, sealing and re-burial of the capsule and any of changes occuring. A copy of this record shall be kept in the capsule itself.
  6. Should a superior temperature indicator capable of precise indication over a long period of time be developed in the future, the original maximum-minimum thermometer may be replaced by such.
  7. Eventually the languages of the various documents contained in the capsule will become archaic. These documents should be transcribed into contemporary languages when necessary so that future generations may be able to comprehend the storehouse of knowledge that the capsule represents.

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The contents of this site are excerpted from THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF TIME CAPSULE EXPO'70(March 1975). Please note that company and organization names may differ from those of the current ones.

© Panasonic Corporation 2010