As Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones prove, good music lasts a long time;
now Japanese hi-tech giant Hitachi says it can last even longer -- a
few hundred million years at least.
The company on Monday unveiled a
method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that
can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without
degrading, almost forever.
And for anyone who updated their LP
collection onto CD, only to find they then needed to get it all on MP3, a
technology that never needs to change might sound appealing.
volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of
keeping it for later generations, we haven't necessarily improved since
the days we inscribed things on stones," Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi
"The possibility of losing information may actually
have increased," he said, noting the life of digital media currently
available -- CDs and hard drives -- is limited to a few decades or a
century at most.
And the rapid development of technologies has resulted in frequent changes of data-reading hardware.
you must have experienced, there is the problem that you cannot
retrieve information and data you managed to collect," said Torii,
apparently referring to now-obsolete record players and cine films.
new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a
thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical
Provided a computer with the know-how to understand
that binary is available -- simple enough to programme, no matter how
advanced computers become -- the data will always be readable, Torii
The prototype storage device is two centimetres (0.8 inches)
square and just two millimetres (0.08 inches) thick and made from
quartz glass, a highly stable and resilient material, used to make
beakers and other instruments for laboratory use.
The chip, which
is resistant to many chemicals and unaffected by radio waves, can be
exposed directly to high temperature flames and heated to 1,000 degrees
Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) for at least two hours without being damaged.
It is also waterproof, meaning it could survive natural calamities, such as fires and tsunami.
"We believe data will survive unless this hard glass is broken," said senior researcher Takao Watanabe.
material currently has four layers of dots, which can hold 40 megabytes
per square inch, approximately the density on a music CD, researchers
said, adding they believe adding more layers should not be a problem.
have not decided when to put the chip to practical use but researchers
said they could start with storage services for government agencies,
museums and religious organisations.