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Scientists Claim New Data Storage Can Last 13.8 Billion Years

A few years ago, scientists at the University of Southampton announced the development of so-called 5D "Superman memory" crystals: small nanostructured glass discs that, through laser-writing, could hold a lot more data for a lot longer than other storage media. The team has continued to improve on that technology, and now report that they can record a whopping 360 terabytes of data on the discs—all of which will basically be immortal.

More precisely, if kept at room temperature, the discs will reportedly last for 13.8 billion years. (As a reminder, the universe is about 13.8 billion years old.) The team is presenting the technology at the International Society for Optical Engineering Conference in San Francisco this week. According to the abstract on the conference website, the data written on the discs can remain stable up to 1000°C (1832°F), and so far, a copy of the King James Bible and the Magna Carta have been successfully stored. The authors write: "Even at elevated temperatures of 160°C, the extrapolated decay time of nanogratings is comparable with the age of the Universe—13.8 billion years."

The full study has not yet been published, so there is currently no explanation regarding that incredibly long timetable, but the development is notable news in a world that's increasingly reliant on digital data storage.

In a press release, Professor Peter Kazansky from the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre said: "It is thrilling to think that we have created the technology to preserve documents and information and store it in space for future generations.This technology can secure the last evidence of our civilization: all we’ve learnt will not be forgotten."

Check out the fabrication process for these teeny tiny data powerhouses below.

[h/t Hypebeast]

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The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
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Jeff Bezos Is Helping to Build a Clock Meant to Keep Time for 10,000 Years
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo

Few human inventions are meant to last hundreds of years, much less thousands. But the 10,000 Year Clock is designed to keep accurate time for millennia. First proposed in 1989, the long-lasting timepiece is finally being installed inside a mountain in western Texas, according to CNET.

The organization building the clock, the Long Now Foundation, wanted to create a tribute to thinking about the future. Founded by computer scientist Danny Hillis and Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand, the group boasts famous members like musician Brian Eno and numerous Silicon Valley heavyweights. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is putting up the $42 million necessary to complete the project, writing that “it's a special Clock, designed to be a symbol, an icon for long-term thinking."

Measuring 500 feet tall when it's completed, the clock will run on thermal power and synchronize each day at solar noon. Every day, a “chime generator” will come up with a different sequence of rings, never repeating a sequence day to day. On specific anniversaries—one year, 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years—it will animate a mechanical system within one of five rooms carved into the mountain. On the first anniversary, for instance, the clock will animate an orrery, a model of the solar system. Since they don’t expect to be alive for many of the future anniversaries, the clock’s creators won't determine animations for 100, 1000, or 10,000 years—that'll be left up to future generations. (To give you an idea of just how far away 10,000 years is, in 8000 B.C.E., humans had just started to domesticate cows for the first time.)

Though you can sign up to be notified when the clock is finished, it won’t be easy to see it up close. The nearest airport is several hours’ drive away, and the mountain is 2000 feet above the valley floor. So you may have to be content with seeing it virtually in the video below.

Clock of the Long Now - Installation Begins from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

[h/t CNET]

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Barbie Is Now Giving Coding Lessons
Tynker
Tynker

Mattel wants to help 10 million kids learn to code by 2020, and the toy giant is enlisting one of its most career-focused assets: Barbie. According to Engadget, Mattel is working with the coding education company Tynker to make seven Barbie-themed computer programming lessons.

Barbie has been a pilot, an architect, the president, and a computer engineer, so there may be no better character to teach kids the joys of coding. The lessons, arriving in summer 2018, will be designed for youngsters in kindergarten and up, and will teach Barbie-lovers more than just how to make apps. They’ll use Barbie’s many careers—which also included veterinarian, robotics engineer, and astronaut—as a way to guide kids through programming concepts.

An illustration depicts Barbie and her friends surrounded by cats and dogs and reads 'Barbie: Pet Vet.'

A screenshot of a Barbie coding lesson features a vet's office full of pets.

There are plenty of new initiatives that aim to teach kids how to code, from a Fisher-Price caterpillar toy to online games featuring Rey from Star Wars. This is the third partnership between Mattel and Tynker, who have already produced programming lessons using Hot Wheels and Monster High.

Kindergarten may seem a little soon to set kids on a career path as a computer programmer, but coding has been called “the most important job skill of the future,” and you don’t need to work for Google or Facebook to make learning it worthwhile. Coding can give you a leg up in applying for jobs in healthcare, finance, and other careers outside of Silicon Valley. More importantly for kids, coding games are fun. Who wouldn’t want to play Robotics Engineer Barbie?

[h/t Engadget]

All images by Tynker

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