Superman Locked Up In Silica Glass – By Microsoft & Warner Bros

in science •  5 days ago 

Probably the most famous of superheroes became the test pilot for a new interesting technology for storing data in silica glass. The movie from 1978 will now exist for at least a thousand years. Unless it meets its kryptonite.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabayboard862112_1920.jpg

Microsoft and Warner Bros came together to imprison the legendary superhero for a thousand years. But do not worry, this is not the script for an upcoming superhero movie. It just Project Silica – a project that tests a revolutionary technology for long term data storage.

Experts of the two companies managed to put the legendary movie on to a sheet of silica glass about the size of a cup-holder and also managed to read the film of the slice. Such a “disk” should be able to last for centuries unless it gets broken. The silica glass is 75 by 75 millimeters and has a thickness of two millimeters and is capable of holding up to 75.6 GB of data.

It is also incredibly durable. In a serious of violent experiments, they found out they can flood it with water, fry it with microwaves, put it under the effects of magnets, boil it, bake it, and even scrub it with steel wool. The data was still readable after all this.

The superb durability of the silica glass shows that such a data storage medium should survive various catastrophes, including fires, floods, blackouts, earthquakes or magnetic fields. And compared with current data centers it would need much less space and much less energy.

And the data should endure forever. Well, not really but at least for a thousand years while data stored with magnetic means can be unreadable in just a few decades. This forces many companies to re-record their data every few years. This is not only time consuming but also very expensive.

One of the potential clients for this project would be Warner Bros. They need to archive about a century of movies, TV broadcasts, animated shorts, radio, etc. And now, thanks to Superman, they know the technology works.

The data is written onto the disk with a femtosecond infrared laser. It codes data at a nano-scale, using 3D pixels known as voxels. Each voxel has the shape of an upside-down drop of water. More than a hundred layers can be burned into the disk. And to read the data you need a computerized microscope and a decoding AI.

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