Most educational institutes and research laboratories still depend on on magnetic tape to store their data collections. Hitachi lately declared that it has developed a medium that can live longer than not only this old-school format but also CDs, DVDs, hard drives and MP3s.The electronics giant affiliated with Kyoto University's Kiyotaka Miura to develop “semiperpetual” slivers of quartz glass that Hitachi says can store information for hundreds of millions of years with virtually no degradation.
Image: COURTESY OF PLANNING OFFICE OF THE CENTRAL RESEARCH LABORATORY, HITACHI, LTD
But the medium is more remarkable for its durability. It is waterproof and resistant to chemicals and weathering, and it was undamaged when exposed to 1,000-degree heat for two hours in a test. The results of that experiment led Hitachi to conclude that the quartz data could last hundreds of eons.
“If both readers and writers can be produced at a reasonable price, this has the potential to greatly change archival storage systems,” says Ethan Miller, director for the Center for Research in Intelligent Storage at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
The medium could be ideal for safekeeping a civilization's most vital information, museum holdings or sacred texts. The question is whether the world as we know it would even last that long.
“Pangaea broke up less than several hundred million years ago,” Miller adds. “Many quartz-based rocks from that time are now sand on our beaches—how would this quartz medium fare any differently?”