Norway's New Doomsday Vault Is Designed to Store Data for Eternity


When the apocalypse comes, the Svalbard islands of Norway might hold the only surviving vestiges of human civilization. The Arctic archipelago is home to the Global Seed Vault, an 11,000-square-foot underground repository (seen above) that preserves hundreds of thousands of seeds from all over the world in case of a catastrophic plant extinction. Now, a new kind of vault has opened up next door in a former coal mine that belongs to the Norwegian government, as Gizmodo reports.

The Arctic World Archive is designed to hold data, not seeds, storing historical and sensitive information on micrographic film created by Piql, a Norwegian preservation company. The film is then stored in a physical box deep in the vault, designed to be retrieved and read by anyone in the future, even if the original technology used to read and write the file (say, a PDF) is no longer in use. It’s a highly secure library designed to keep certain documents and data available for the foreseeable future, through whatever environmental disasters, cybersecurity attacks, or world wars might come in the next 500 to 1000 years.

In one of its brochures for the archive, Piql argues that keeping an analog version of important documents in a remote place is necessary in today’s digital world:

In a world threatened with more and more cyber attacks, digital espionage, data manipulation and electronic warfare, having valuable and critical information stored on a system independent of specific technologies and kept in a secure and safe location becomes more and more relevant.

The Arctic World Archive is an offline data vault that ensures the most sensitive and irreplaceable data to be protected for the future. Located in a disaster-proof vault, the information is kept in permafrost conditions far away from political and physical instabilities in the rest of the world.

While the files can be read online, the physical film can only be accessed by ordering it to be brought up from inside the vault. The microfilm cannot be overwritten, so whatever was first recorded on it cannot be manipulated by anyone who subsequently handles it.

The pace of technology moves at such a rapid clip that even data created a few decades ago might be largely unreadable to the public—how do you retrieve data from a floppy disc when no computers have those drives anymore? The idea here is that this micrographic film (Piql representatives describe it like QR codes written on film) will be able to outlast the original technology used to create the file. It’s the 21st century equivalent of carving runes onto stone.

The Brazilian and Mexican governments have already put copies of their constitutions and other historic national documents—some dating back to the 16th century—in the archive.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Attention Business Travelers: These Are the Countries With the Fastest Internet

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, high-speed internet seems like a necessity when you’re trying to connect with colleagues or loved ones back home. Of course, the quality of that connection largely depends on what part of the world you’re in—and if you want the best internet on earth, you’ll have to head to Asia.

Singapore might be smaller than New York City, but it has the fastest internet of any country, Travel + Leisure reports. The city-state received the highest rating from the World Broadband Speed League, an annual ranking conducted by UK analyst Cable. For the report, Cable tracked broadband speeds in 200 countries over several 12-month periods to get an average.

Three Scandinavian countries—Sweden, Denmark, and Norway—followed closely behind Singapore. And while the U.S. has the fastest broadband in North America, it comes in 20th place for internet speed globally, falling behind Asian territories like Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as European countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Spain. On the bright side, though, the U.S. is up one place from last year’s ranking.

In the case of Singapore, the country’s small size works to its advantage. As a financial hub in Asia, it depends heavily on its digital infrastructure, and as a result, “there is economic necessity, coupled with the relative ease of delivering high-speed connections across a small area,” Cable notes in its report. Within Singapore, 82 percent of residents have internet access.

Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, on the other hand, have all focused on FTTP (Fiber to the Premises) connections, and this has boosted internet speeds.

Overall, global broadband speeds are rising, and they improved by 23 percent from 2017 to 2018. However, much of this progress is seen in countries that are already developed, while underdeveloped countries still lag far behind.

“Europe, the United States, and thriving economic centers in the Asia-Pacific region (Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) are leading the world when it comes to the provision of fast, reliable broadband, which suggests a relationship between available bandwidth and economic health,” Dan Howdle, Cable’s consumer telecoms analyst, said in a statement. “Those countries leading the world should be congratulated, but we should also be conscious of those that are being left further and further behind."

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Samsung Is Making a Phone You Can Fold in Half

The iPhone vs. Galaxy war just intensified. Samsung is pulling out all the stops and developing a foldable phone dubbed Galaxy X, which it plans to release next year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It would seem the rumors surrounding a mythical phone that can fold over like a wallet are true. The phone, which has been given the in-house code name “Winner,” will have a 7-inch screen and be a little smaller than a tablet but thicker than most other smartphones.

Details are scant and subject to change at this point, but the phone is expected to have a smaller screen on the front that will remain visible when the device is folded. Business Insider published Samsung patents back in May showing a phone that can be folded into thirds, but the business news site noted that patents often change, and some are scrapped altogether.

The Galaxy Note 9 is also likely to be unveiled soon, as is a $300 Samsung speaker that's set to rival the Apple HomePod.

The Galaxy X will certainly be a nifty new invention, but it won’t come cheap. The Wall Street Journal reports the phone will set you back about $1500, which is around $540 more than Samsung’s current most expensive offering, the Galaxy Note 8.

[h/t Business Insider]


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