@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.
"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?
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!
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.
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?
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
"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?
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.