Workers in Rochester, Minnesota, were shocked yesterday to discover a time capsule underneath a statue of the Mayo brothers. Nobody knows what's inside, but it's large enough to keep us guessing. Could it be old fashioned medications? Antique stethoscopes? Maybe a samples of a virus that will wipe out humanity?
Well, don't start taking bets just yet. The city isn't sure whether they should open it.
The Mayo time capsule is thought to have been buried when the statue was installed around 1986. But that may not be old enough for some time capsule nerds who think anything younger than 50 years should remain undisturbed. The mayor of Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, hasn't made a decision about opening it yet.
"I have to do some thinking about that," Rochester mayor Ardell Brede told the Post-Bulletin. "Obviously, we could open it now, or we could wait until the statue is placed and open it then, or we could not open it at all."
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Many time capsules are held in a relatively small-ish box. It's not uncommon to find cornerstone capsules with with little more than a Bible, a few coins, and some newspaper clippings. But this one appears to be considerably larger than average, leading us to believe that there could be some interesting stuff in there. That is, provided everything inside was well preserved.
Time capsule hunters often open their low-tech time-travel boxes and find nothing but water and mush. Other times people find $US10 million. You really never know.
There are no hard and fast rules about what to do with time capsules or when to open them. Even after they're opened, there can be brutal custody battles, as is currently the case in Pittsburgh. But if it turns out to be some medical samples (as was actually the case at a hospital in New York, which had some bacteria from 1897!) we just might regret letting our curiosity win out.