Sunday, October 21, 2012

Digital Storage that Lasts "Forever"

We may have written information that has survived thousands of years, and even carved in stone, making it last for "as long as it can" - but when we consider our current digital storage media... things are as long lasting as we'd expect.

Take you regular old writeable CD or DVD discs, have you tried reading one of your first ever recorded discs? You might be surprised that you low cost burnable CDs from 8 or 9 years ago are now completely unreadble (some might have even turned completely transparent!)

And even hard drives and flash memories can last only for so long, usually requiring periodic "data transfers" to newer media, to make sure they're in order and last a few years longer.

For most people this shouldn't be a problem... but if we want our world knowledge to be available for future generations in a long lasting way, we'll need to find a better way to do it. Maybe something like this crystal storage process developed by Hitachi.

A system that is similar to the one used in optical discs (by engraving tiny dots), but that on this crystal lasts virtually "forever" (or a few hundred millions years at least).

Looks like we'll have a way to leave all our knowledge to future generations - let's hope it really is something worth leaving.

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