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Got a storage problem? – million year discs to the rescue


There’s a LOT of information stored on computers right now. Probably more data than you could comfortably fit into the back seat of a BMW sports wagon. Which is all fine and dandy, until you realize that it’s mostly stored on magnetic media of one sort or another, which will only survive for something like a 10 to 15 year lifespan. How on earth are we going to make sure this information is still around in the future when our successors and those VIP alien visitors need it?

Well a team of researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, is also worried about this issue and is attempting to fix the problem with a disk that will last a million years or more. Which sounds about right.

The researchers have been testing disks made from tungsten, which has a melting temperature of 3,422 degrees Celcius and covered with a protective silicon nitride layer. Specific details on the project and the approach can be found on Arxiv.org. They then stored data on the disc using QR codes etched onto the metal surface. The early results are promising, with tests suggesting that the disc could theoretically survive for 1 million years without suffering natural data loss. Unless it gets hit by a meteor or some other calamity.


The hunt is now on to try and improve the robustness of the material so it will be Hulk Smash strong, as well as theoretically able to avoid natural degradation. So fear not, with a little more work, advanced aliens visiting the planet 750,000 years from now should still be able to read your Tweets and see the Instagram photos of your lunch plate. [Via]

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