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Unlimited Lifetime Data Storage Using Nanostructured Glass

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GTOlover
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Platinum
Great opening line
GTOlover   7/24/2013 9:34:10 AM
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I remember in the begining days of the PC (early 80's for me) that 1.44 MB disks were considered 'large'. Harddrives of 20 and 40 Mb would be all the storage you would ever need.

Man, I can now fill up a 1Tb drive and wonder when they will make a bigger storage device. To even suggest that this new device will forever fullfil our data storage needs, well history has a way of humbling us! 

far911
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Silver
Re: Great opening line
far911   7/24/2013 9:40:57 AM
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@GTOlover - Well said. With the way things have been and with the evergrowing demand for data, even 360 terabytes stored on glass might prove insufficient in the years to come.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: Great opening line
Nancy Golden   7/24/2013 11:18:05 AM
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I remember those days too GTOlover - I had a 10 Meg hard drive on one computer and a 20 Meg hard drive on another (XTs) and I  thought that was so cool. We've come a long way - once I thought someone was talking about a hard drive when I heard memory size and they were actually talking about RAM....mindboggling...I think the challenge will be for us as users is to intelligently catalogue our data storage so that we can find what we need when we need it. 

naperlou
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Re: Great opening line
naperlou   7/24/2013 11:36:16 AM
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Well, I remember the 5MB drives that were external.  They were half the size of the PC.  I also worked on a four user system that used the original large format floppy.  Those were the days.

Actually, what I really find funny abou the title is the term unlimited.  If you look at the 10MB drive and compare that to the 1TB drives now available on laptops, you get a factor of 100,000.  So, I don't think 360TB will suffice for my kids. 

I was told once, and it has stuck with me, that there are only three numbers in computer science.  They are 0, 1 and infinity.  At some point, we will exceed any finite number you pick.  I was told that thirty years ago, and have seen it hold true all this time. 

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: Great opening line
Nancy Golden   7/24/2013 11:49:19 AM
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Even Disney agrees with you naperlou:

"To infinity and beyond"

--Buzz Light Year

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Great opening line
Ann R. Thryft   7/24/2013 8:01:04 PM
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Wow, this is really like science fiction. I don't mean the capacity so much as the technology. But I must agree, unlimited has been said before and overturned many times in the history of data storage.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Great opening line
Elizabeth M   7/25/2013 6:42:15 AM
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I'm with you, Ann...a bit skeptical about this, although it sounds pretty amazing and the technology is really innovative. But I am hesitant to jump on board and believe anything that comes with the promise of "unlimited." I think there are limits to just about everything!

Niel
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Gold
Re: Great opening line
Niel   7/25/2013 9:17:59 AM
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Perhaps a little too good, but our history here at the ORC teaches us that initial applications are often stepping stones to further and unexpected uses.  When David made the first in fibre amplifier who'd have thought of an optical fibre network forming the backbone of a inter-linked-network? Copper ruled the day then, now we talk not of converting the last mile but the last 10 yards to the desktop or home router hub.

Awile
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Iron
Re: Great opening line
Awile   7/25/2013 10:00:48 AM
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"Unlimited" in the story refers to the lifetime.  To me, it means that no reliable estimate of the lifetime has been made. 

When I saw the word glass, I was immediately reminded that common glass is a slowly moving liquid.  I can see the effect of the slowly moving glass by looking through an old window.  Will the same effect occur for the storage disks?  At what point does it become too warped to read?

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Great opening line
Ann R. Thryft   7/25/2013 11:49:45 AM
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Thanks for that comment, Awile--unlimited lifetime makes a lot of sense (although still stretching it a bit), whereas unlimited storage doesn't.
Glass can be made by more than one method and comes in many different formulations. It's usually classed as an amorphous solid: mechanical properties of a solid but atomic structure similar to that of a supercooled liquid. Whether it behaves as a liquid or a solid depends on whether it's reached its T sub g (glass transition temperature). But it does not continue to flow, thus causing warped windows--that's an urban myth:
http://dwb.unl.edu/Teacher/NSF/C01/C01Links/www.ualberta.ca/~bderksen/florin.html



Awile
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Iron
Re: Great opening line
Awile   7/25/2013 12:06:50 PM
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Thanks for the enlightenment about the liquid glass myth, Ann. 

The bottom line in this case is the realistic life time of the disk.  If it is protected from mechanical shock, would it last a century?  Are there atmospheric environmental chemicals that would damage it?  With suitable precautions would it be a robust archival storage medium? 

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Great opening line
Ann R. Thryft   7/25/2013 1:07:59 PM
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Your welcome, Awile: that's an annoyingly persistent urban legend. Regarding lifetime of the disk, good question and I have the same one about the material itself. But it's actually more than one question, as your mention of shock protection indicates.

Semiconductor-based memory storage (SSDs, like thumb drives, or even older Zip drives) is supposed to be more rugged than older magnetic hard disk drive technologies. And it is--but it's only as good as the packaging enclosing it. That's partly why older HDDs were enclosed in boxes built like tanks and expected to last decades, but thumb drives are enclosed in rather flimsy plastic. PCs and storage devices for industrial and military use still are. The glass itself is nanostructured, which could make it tougher.

Aside from material itself and packaging there's also an entirely different question about data degradation in a particular storage medium.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Great opening line
Charles Murray   7/24/2013 7:28:08 PM
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Now I'm really going to go back into the archives...The IBM 650 mainframe in the 1950s had a magnetic drum memory that stored 8.5 kBytes of information. So, yes, GTOlover, you're right. History does have a way of humbling us.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Let's skip petabytes
TJ McDermott   7/25/2013 1:25:24 AM
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This technology will get to us sooner or later; I think they should skip petabytes.  I want a glass drive with exabytes of storage space.

What use could that much space be?  Your Google Glasses could run continuously, along with any other sensors you care to wear.

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Let's skip petabytes
GTOlover   7/25/2013 8:14:28 AM
TJ, your idea of Google glasses sent a chill up my spine. Imagine a day in which literally billions of people wearing devices that record everything they do and everything in their enviroment (including other people). And I think face book is a lot of meaninglessness, imagine people 'posting' their entire day! I semi-joke about 1984 and the coming of big brother and the recent NSA revelations, but the explosion of data storage is making this a reality.

My kids may reminisce about a time when data storage was just movies, music, internet tracking, and CAD. But they may live in an age of life data storage. People's lives being recorded and stored (and not the reality tv crappola). They may even live in a 3D recording and storage of events. Even more scary is to think that every citizen's data being acessed and reconstructed for any 'security' event. Constitutional rights, they woould be old news!\

Even more wild of an idea, births are an event followed by implantation to start the life data recording and storage. Tin hat thinking, maybe. But do you think someone born in the early 1900's would ever imagine a set of glasses streaming images to a digital media and/or the internet? Would they even imagine an internet accessible by your phone?

bwmetz
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Iron
There's a movie for that
bwmetz   7/25/2013 1:01:36 PM
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Have you seen "The Final Cut" starring Robin Williams?  Not the greatest, but given your comments you might want to.

Sean F
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Iron
Re: Let's skip petabytes
Sean F   7/29/2013 11:33:52 AM
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"But do you think someone born in the early 1900's would ever imagine a set of glasses streaming images to a digital media and/or the internet? Would they even imagine an internet accessible by your phone?"
           Good point GTO; but would someone in the early 1800's have imagined the industrial revolution, horseless carriages (automobiles), radio, atomic bombs or airplanes? 

profgroove
User Rank
Iron
extreme large data storage
profgroove   7/25/2013 11:45:20 AM
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-Perfect for a complete archive of all movies, films, records, books, documents, etc. up to the present date.  (analogue films and tapes - even paper, are deteriorating)

far911
User Rank
Silver
Re: extreme large data storage
far911   7/30/2013 5:32:09 AM
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@profgroove - The only infinite thing we're certain about is the universe. I guess we'll have to store our movies and books in space. Look at the bright side, even aliens can benefit from them that way, heh. 

Hellmut Kohlsdorf
User Rank
Gold
Danger to democracy
Hellmut Kohlsdorf   7/26/2013 6:54:16 AM
Stating what I was told from a US citizen, the average US citizen just wants to sit after work in front of his TV set with a glas of beer. This storage technology has the side effect to be a road tovards total control of citizens and as a consequence a huge threat to democracy. The US, as former president Carter wrote, has no real working democracy anymore due to lack of interest of his citizen and due to lack of education of many.

Sad to see that even the educated engineering community totally ignores the effect on freedom and democracy. The only good side effect of this is that it forces european citizen tzo get active to stop the support of this behaviour like the one made public by Snowdden by european goverments and I must admit by the german goverment and goverment agencies too! Where have those citizen gone that fighted so intensively for freedom and human rights in the 60s!

I sometimes fear the Alkaida is achieving its objective to destroy our culture of freedom and human rights!

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