Is it just me that sees superman like crystals with data stored on them ?!
Southampton Uni research boffins have demonstrated access to pulsed femtosecond laser-written data bits in fused nano-structured quartz glass, which can store the data for a practically unlimited time. Jingyu Zhang, a researcher at the uni's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) led the boffins of the Physical Optics Group in …
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The article and its author are confused on several levels.
1. As others note, quartz is silicon dioxode, calcite is calcium carbonate.
2. Quartz is a crystal, not a glass. A crystal has a regular arrangement of atoms, glass has a random arrangement of atoms. To get the bifrefringence etc it has to be a crystal.
Let's hope el Reg does not descend to the abysmal level of the main stream media in its science reporting. You can teach scientists to become reporters but you can't do the opposite.
Yesss! Science Fiction is HAPPENING!
Seriously, crystals have been part of Sci-fi for decades.
Adding this one to my list of cool sci-fi things that are on the brink of being real, or are so already, along with the Sabre engine, Google Glass, rail guns, Ion drives, energy shields (see the magnetic shielding systems Nasa wants for a Mars effort), power armor/loaders/exoskeletal suits, fusion power, autonomous robots, and neurally controlled artificial limbs...
So excited to be living in this century. This stuff has been hinted at in the past, but always 'Decades away' and now, we caught up. It's happening.
All we need now is a breakthrough in artificial gravity and we can get off this rock once and for all!
Well, we could try spending some sensible amount of money on it
UK "big six" energy company profits before tax are about a billion pounds per year each (i.e. approx total 6 billion) . But even the US spends /under/ $500 million per year on fusion; and its total spend since 1957 or so is only about $30 billion. Hmm, what did BP have to put aside for the gulf oil spill?
See focusfusion.org (when it gets back up, or in the google cache) for more US figures..
Off hand the last figure I heard was about £20, 000, 000, 000 including the compensation or people affected by the spill but BP was arguing that in court claiming a lot of spurious and exaggerated claims were being made. Doesn't stop you having an excellent point though.
"UK "big six" energy company profits before tax are about a billion pounds per year each (i.e. approx total 6 billion) . But even the US spends /under/ $500 million per year on fusion; and its total spend since 1957 or so is only about $30 billion. Hmm, what did BP have to put aside for the gulf oil spill?"
So in another 30-40 years it will be up and running then?
Fusion energy research. The biggest producer of PhDs in fusion energy research ever discovered.
Yay for that mr AC
It's not clear how fast they expect "ultrafast" to actually be. Are we talking on the same sort of order as the slower tape drives? Writeable DVDs? HDDs? As high up as Flash? Slower than all of these?
Given the focus on archiving, the implication seems to be that it'll still be at the lower end of the scale, but I can't find anything that actually says what they're expecting.
But when copying between HDD is around 100Mbs max practical speeds, the crystal storage doesn't need to work faster than that to replace the HDD for a backup medium...
Sure SATA may operate in the Gb/s range, but I've not found a HDD that can do that (I use WD Black drives mainly due to the 5 year warranty)
At last a "revolutionary new storage medium" which looks like it might actually be capable of producing backups/archives with a chance of outlasting the primary medium!!!!!!one!
...and fast too!
...and using cheap media! Lumps of common glass no less!
Absolutely fantastic! Wonder how it'll be done. Spinning glass cylinders with the read/write heads running along a track like the very early wax gramophones? Or thick discs more like contemporary stuff?
I hope I live to see something come of this!
I hope I live to see something come of this!"
IIRC IBM labs did something with storing data in crystals using laser quite some years back. In 3D no less!
I remember thinking at the time that it was similar to the Star Trek TNG crystal data cubes. Or even the crystals in HAL in 2001:A Space Odyssey. Or ORAC in Blakes 7. And so on and so on :-).
"Here you go son, this was your granpa's media drive, it's 300 years of entertainment in a box and not one iota came from Apple, so it's yours forever, to pass on to your children and your children's children and .....
"Who's Apple, dad?"
"Oh, they were around when I was your age, they owned every scrap of entertainment there was, that is, until this box of tricks came along"
"Does it have all the Gay Laser Sharks on Acid back catalogue?"
"But of course son"
Give it 20 years and we'll be buying these for 10 quid off eBay while laughing at our comically small multi-terabyte NAS enclosures.
After all, 20 years ago I had an Atari ST with a double-density floppy drive and a drawer full of floppy disks and thought it fantastic because I wasn't loading data off a crappy C60 audio tape.
or a sugarlump sized piece of glass.
1: How big is the fecking rewriter?
2: You's still going to need a backup. Backups are for data you care enough about to keep at least 2 copies i diffferent locations.(*)
(*) Cue lecture about "RAID is not backup, Archiving is not backup, Replication is not backup"
About 30 years ago, some New Age-y friends of mine played an audio tape for me of a lecture by a diver who was swimming around the Bahamas after a major storm. (Note that I am not saying I believe this:) He claimed to have found the remains of a city, temporarily uncovered by the storm. In the center was some kind of hall with a round table in the center. In the center of the table was a large crystal with lines incised in it, which he brought back and was apparently showing at the lecture. It would mimic whatever was shown it, like a striped card (not in the sense of reflection — the image remained after the card was removed). He posited it was some kind of memory device or display. I haven't been able to find this story anywhere else.
No its not. I believe that myth comes from the fact that early glass was made by pouring liquid glass onto a slab so it flowed out until it cooled so the glass was thicker near the middle than the edges. When broken up to make leaded windows it makes more sense to have the thick edge at the bottom eventually leading to this myth becoming common knowledge 800 years later.
Glass does appear to deform if you fill it with lots of beer and drink from it often enough, this is another fiction but well worth testing just in case.
not another "Gee wiz, look what's coming down the road in another twenty years or so" story. Bah humbug. If these bulls*it stories were true, I'd have my flying car by now, cold fusion would be a reality, carbon nanotube batteries would propel electric cars at 1000 miles a pop, and I would have my "Real Feel" holographic television by now.
Look, if it's not going to be available in stores within a month or so, don't bother writing the story. Stick to writing about stuffy British Prime Ministers, porn filters, current IT, and beer. All the stuff we really case about. Especially the porn.
Even more underwhelming than just being another "Gee Whiz" future story..... There was research going on back on the late 1980s or early 1990s on using quartz as storage. IIRC, I read this article in Computer World, and they were predicting it wouldn't be available in products for 10 years back then.
Perhaps someone has a blue phone box that doesn't place them at *exactly* their desired place and time?
Yeah! and everything else that could be sensitive recorded about you, indelibly recorded for someone to lose and have turn up in a bus .
Unless it is information that is vital to you personally, in which case you will be told by a pimply clerk who is operating the system 'I'm sorry but we don't seem to have any record of you!'
When I see the words "[Name] University" and "crystal storage technology" in the opening parts of a story I know that graduation time is on the way once again. The tropes are so obvious they've become cliched:
1) It uses crystalline holographic-type technology;
2) It uses LAZERZ!!!
3) It offers orders of magnitude more storage space than we have now;
4) It's orders of magnitude faster;
5) It's orders of magnitude longer-lasting.
Oh please. I wish they'd come up with something new to tease us with; watching the same Star Trek: University episodes year after year is getting a little hackneyed now.
Ok, on to what this is really about: the Class of 2013 needs a subject for their theses so they can get their degrees. So they come up with yet another fantasy sci-fi holographic crystal storage device that promises the moon, like the ones covered by El Reg every year since day dot, and which will, once the pieces of paper have been handed out and the caps tossed in the air, be stuffed into an archive box and buried in the University's basement along with all the other pie-in-the-sky technologies we keep hearing about but never materialise.
And once said students have their pieces of paper, they no doubt will all head off to their cushy jobs flipping burgers while a few lucky ones will become government IT consultants and the like. Meanwhile, we will continue using the same spinning rusty discs and CMOS chip based storage technology we've been using since the 70s, because none of these classroom fantasies ever see the light of day once graduation is over.
Yawn. Call me when it gets out of the classroom and onto a factory floor, please.
1) So would this stuff survive a close proximity nuclear pulse or a burst from a local supernova?
2) If an exposed quartz crystal at some point in the past has been exposed to an energetic pulse under optimal conditions and crystal configuration, could this mean that there could be "photographs" or environmental data from millions of years ago stored within these crystals which could be read back with a laser? Data "trapped in amber"?
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