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Storing Your Data For a Billion Years

Illustration for article titled Storing Your Data For a Billion Years

As concerned as we are about memory, we haven't done much to preserve it. Most of our hard drives don't last past 30 years. But soon, using diamond-like carbon nanotubes, even your Gizmodo comments could last practically forever.

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The solution, discovered by researchers at the University of California, takes an entirely new approach to data storage. The proposed device would place a microscopic iron crystal inside a carbon nanotube. With the application of an electric signal of just a few volts, the iron nanoparticle moves back and forth along the tube, registering a binary "1" or "0" depending on its position, basically acting as data bits.

Illustration for article titled Storing Your Data For a Billion Years
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While it's a theoretical solution right now, the scientists who created it are confident that we'll someday see a practical application. And when we do, because of the project's nanoscale nature, we may be able to store 25 DVDs' worth of information on a postage stamp-sized storage device.

The prospect of billion-year storage is fascinating and a little terrifying. Do I want researchers ten thousand years from now combing through my drunken tweets? Actually: maybe. Because when our robot overlords comb through the records and find this post, they'll know that I've always been fully supportive of their cold, steely, logical reign. [Science via Wired]

Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.

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DISCUSSION

We've actually lost Viking probe data from Mars forever because the magnetic tape readers don't exist any more and there are no copies of some of the data in a modern format. Having data storage that can last 'forever' would sustain the value of reading technology, making the entire architecture very useful to archivist.

Now, if only I could read my MS Works files from Windows 3.1