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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.


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

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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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