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Friday, January 25, 2013

Crazy new data storage: DNA and quartz crystals (for 300 million years)

Because I don't want to go to bed with two consecutive posts pertaining to Star Wars staring me in the face (no matter how good, or how nutty)...

A strand of DNA containing the digital data of all of Shakespeare's sonnets, a half-minute sound clip of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, a photo and a science paper was announced a few days ago in an article from the journal Nature. So you could pretty much take everything information-wise accumulated during the course of your entire life - photos, videos, music, writings, financial information, medical files, an entire Blu-ray collection of movies and TV shows, computer games and porno - and put it inside a test tube. The DNA used in the research took two weeks to extract data from, but the read times are supposed to get shorter as the tech develops.

And earlier this month a group of researchers in Japan announced they've turned quartz crystal into a storage medium that will last 300 million years. Currently it has the capacity of a standard CD, but it's thought that it can be expanded with more layers of crystal. It probably won't have the size-to-data ration of the DNA gimmick but in time it'll still hold a lot of your videos, finances, movies, porno TV shows and other stuff.

If the technology ever produces practical quantum computing and nano-scale laser diodes, there could be some wildly cool applications with this. Never mind that iPhone silliness: gimme a real Mother Box!

(Can't recall if I've ever used a Fourth World/New Gods reference on this blog before, but I have now :-)