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]

The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]


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