Skip to comments.Hitachi claims glass data storage will last millions of years
Posted on 09/26/2012 6:42:48 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Hitachi is showing off a storage system using quartz glass that it claims will retain data for hundred of millions of years.
Company researchers displayed the storage unit, consisting of a sliver of glass 2cm square and 2mm thick, which can hold 40MB of data per square inch, about the same as a standard CD. The data is written in binary format by lasering dots on the glass in four layers, but the researchers say adding more layers to increase storage density isn't a problem.
"The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven't necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones," Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii told AFP. "The possibility of losing information may actually have increased," he said, pointing out that CDs and tape storage are predicted to last less than a few decades at best, and in many cases fail within years.
The glass has been shown to retain its data undamaged after being heated to 1,000° Celsius (1,832° Fahrenheit) for over two hours, and is impervious to radiation, water, and most forms of chemicals. Hitachi said the data could conceivably be retrievable hundreds of millions of years in the future.
"We believe data will survive unless this hard glass is broken," said senior researcher Takao Watanabe.
Indefinite storage just don't drop it
Storing the data is one thing, but reading it is quite another. The researchers say, however, that as it is stored in a simple binary format, actually retrieving the data should be possible for future civilizations as the dots can be read using a simple microscope.
The problem of writing and reading future storage mediums isn't new. NASA's golden record, a disc containing images and sounds from Earth that went out with the Voyager 1 and 2 probes, was shipped with a stylus and cartridge, along with pictorial references showing how to play it and a cover showing Earth's location.
The cover of Voyager's golden record, showing where to find mankind
Aliens reading our data might seem inconceivable, but if the glass storage really does last for a hundred million years, it's possible that mankind may not be around to read it either. A paper by Cornell University suggests the average lifespan of a species on Earth is around 10 million years, and given the way humans are fouling their own nest it could be up to the whatever evolves from bees, ants, or dolphins to figure out what these glass things are. ®
ASCII code system got lost along the way...
The system used will be chosen for being straightforward, one assumes. Even if it isn't, future archaeologists should be able to decipher it by looking for patterns in the data.
It seems to me that the harder challenge is flagging these plates as actually containing information. You can hardly expect READ.ME to stay unchanged for millennia.
Thye just couldn't resist throwing that in there, could they.
Oh great, now Lady Gaga music will exist for a millennium.
And, all those tweets and FB posts..
I have a feeling that in 4 million years our descendants will all agree that my .mp3 of Vanilla Ice still stinks. But maybe they can finally settle the argument of whether adding one beat to a Queen song really makes a new song, or if Vanilla Ice was just ripping Queen off.
But seriously, what vanity leads us to believe that the obscene amount of data we create is anything but worthless. In 4 million years humanity will have to try to find the useful data hidden between vapid Twitter posts and Facebook pictures that people take of themselves with their own phones.
A nice shiny thing for a pendant... (Re: ASCII code system got lost along the way...)
" flagging these plates as actually containing information"
Yes, that is probably the biggest problem if the technical knowledge falls down to medieval level even briefly. These, like the surviving CD/DVD/Blueray disks make good material for jewellery... and magnetic tapes would get woven into fabrics.
But if one is optimist, the readme problem could be solved by carving a binary->ASCII table on stones left near the archives of these glass records. These last thousands of years unless deliberately destroyed. A small pictorial dictionary could also be provided the same way, to help make some sense of the words after some microscope-wielding future archeologist has managed to transcribe dots into letters.
They really hate God don’t they? Ironic that the One who releases this type of knowledge to man is so utterly scorned.
Millions of years?
And of course we need every complete thread from FR on the GGG keywordlist in their entirety.
I have black and white photos of my great grandparents from 100 years ago that are still sharp, and which I keep around from a sense of history. Color photos from even 20 years ago have started to fade, however, and VHS tape has a limited lifetime.
While most stuff we produce is dreck, there ARE things I would like to be able to preserve for posterity: high-resolution images of great works of art, certain movies, certain music. Plus images and videos of my family growing up.
But, in 100 years will you descendants be able to view the images on a DVD you made?
The answer is no, because the silver DVDs most people use to archive pictures/movies/etc to will deteriorate before then. Even the expensive “gold” DVDs will be at best marginal at that point.
I’d love to have images/video-recordings/writings of my ancestors, but the media has deteriorated over time to the point that most of it was lost.
I’d also love to leave a record so that 100, 200, or even 500 years from now one of my ancestors can look back and get an idea of who their ancestors were.
I see a real market for this—and not just for legal/business documents—but for personal records.
“which can hold 40MB of data per square inch, about the same as a standard CD”
Why not really impress us and compare it to an 8” floppy?
-—— and given the way humans are fouling their own nest ———
Save the environment. Stop printing newspapers!
We know this because they survived that long ~ this sounds like a way to popularize the method!
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