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Data Storage Technology

Stanford's Quantum Hologram Sets Storage Record 210

Posted by timothy
from the whiffs-of-ephemera dept.
eldavojohn writes "It's often assumed that representing data reaches a limit when you get to the point that an atom represents one bit in some form or fashion. But Stanford University researchers have used a quantum hologram model to store the characters 'S' and 'U' by encoding the data at a rate of 35 bits per electron."
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Stanford's Quantum Hologram Sets Storage Record

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  • versus USB (Score:3, Funny)

    by KingAlanI (1270538) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @09:59PM (#26661651) Homepage Journal

    And I thought my 8GB USB flash drive was high-density! (20mm x 54mm x 8mm)

  • STFU... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Narnie (1349029) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:02PM (#26661669)
    Sweet... now they're just a 'T' and 'F' away from writing something useful.
  • by schizz69 (1239560) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:03PM (#26661681) Journal
    I bet recovering data off an atom could prove...... Difficult. :s
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:04PM (#26661685)

    And by letting S=0 and U=1 we can now represent a bit using 70 bits! Oh wai-

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And by letting S=0 and U=1 we can now represent a bit using 70 bits! Oh wai-

      You'll be hearing from Microsoft's patent lawyers.

  • by Carnildo (712617) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:04PM (#26661687) Homepage Journal

    They're storing data in a small space, sure, but it's got the same problem that traditional holograms do: it takes a good deal of computation time to figure out how to encode the information you want in wave patterns.

  • Neat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:15PM (#26661751)

    One thing most 'futurists' agree on is that the ultimate 'end game' of technology appears to be the conversion of all matter in the solar system into machine parts and computational elements. It's a logical end result of exponential growth. (and, actually, would be only the beginning : such a 'civilization' would eventually grow to convert the entire universe, but this would take much longer due to the snails pace of light)

    It's neat to think that such a civilization could store even more information than an obvious cap of '1 bit per atom'.

    • Re:Neat (Score:5, Funny)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:32PM (#26661867) Homepage

      One thing most 'futurists' agree on is that the ultimate 'end game' of technology appears to be the conversion of all matter in the solar system into machine parts and computational elements. It's a logical end result of exponential growth. (and, actually, would be only the beginning : such a 'civilization' would eventually grow to convert the entire universe, but this would take much longer due to the snails pace of light)

      What makes you think this hasn't already happened? Maybe we're part of a big computer thats trying to answer some kind of big question or something.

      Actually, never mind. That seems infinitely improbable to me.

      • I was going to do that ;) now where did my mice get to?
      • Re:Neat (Score:5, Funny)

        by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:56PM (#26662009) Homepage Journal

        Maybe we're just somebody's porn collection.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432)

        To ruin a perfectly good Hitchhiker's guide:

        Actually it's not infinitely improbable. It's actually extremely probable.

        Now obviously there is life in our universe whatever it may be. (I think therefore I am. Etc...) If life is capable of evolving into sentient, intelligent, technological life then eventually it's almost guaranteed that they'll simulate another universe. As long as each universe simulates at least ONE other universe then the probability of being in a simulation is > 50%.

        The chances tha

        • Yes, most of them are buggy.
        • Re:Neat (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:15AM (#26663605)
          The problem with this theory : it assumes that each universe has the capacity in terms of available matter that could build a computer capable of simulating an entire universe THE SAME SIZE as the one above it. Not possible.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by KeX3 (963046)
            Just because the simulation doesn't throw up "LOADING" when you go past jupiter doesn't mean the entire known universe is one big zone. If building a simulated world, it would make no sense at all to simulate the entire universe. Simulate the close proximity, use a skybox for the rest.
          • by gnud (934243)
            You're right. The one above us is waaay bigger than ours. And our universe is constantly expanding at the same rate as their data center.
          • by kabocox (199019)

            The problem with this theory : it assumes that each universe has the capacity in terms of available matter that could build a computer capable of simulating an entire universe THE SAME SIZE as the one above it. Not possible.

            Um as far as we know or have been taught. Imagine if you had the tech base that you didn't need matter to run your universe. Now imagine if you played with time and space like they were nothing. Imagine if you could a box that's bigger on the inside than on the side. Think if you could c

      • by kabocox (199019)

        One thing most 'futurists' agree on is that the ultimate 'end game' of technology appears to be the conversion of all matter in the solar system into machine parts and computational elements. It's a logical end result of exponential growth. (and, actually, would be only the beginning : such a 'civilization' would eventually grow to convert the entire universe, but this would take much longer due to the snails pace of light)

        What makes you think this hasn't already happened? Maybe we're part of a big computer

    • by iNaya (1049686)
      And if the entire universe was made into one giant computer, would that make any difference to what it actually is now?
      • by neomunk (913773)

        Well... If our simulation is being monitored (even by an autonomous script) whatever watchdog might take our recent (in terms of the simulation) attempts at quantum mechanical thought and experiments along those lines as 'hacking' the system. Maybe that's what we're SUPPOSED to end up doing, or maybe that's a termination condition (segmentation fault: core dumped)...

        Not that I necessarily buy the notion we're living in a simulation (though I think the idea is interesting), I do think there would be real i

        • by neomunk (913773)

          Errr, sorry iNaya. The way this is threaded, I mistook your post as saying something different. My bad!

        • The Universe acts as a computer, even though I can't predict what will happen in the next ten seconds I believe my (zero dimentional?) "soul" is a particular instance of a calculation within the Universal calculator.

          The word "simulation" implies the calculator and it's calculations have a "higher" purpose, ie: an external intelligence pre-programmed it and/or is still pushing the buttons. Note that by definition the Universe has no "outside".

          We will never know if there is a button pushing God, there i
          • by neomunk (913773)

            While I generally agree, I'd say that that depends on how well 'sandboxed' the simulation is for (possible) other running simulations, or even the 'bare metal' that existence (consciousness, soul, probability, whatever) runs on. I chose the good ole' segfault in my post for a reason, what if we figure out some way to "peek" at a spatial location that isn't mapped to our space-time? It would suggest that there is another separate space-time congruent to ours, and that there may be ways to interact with it.

    • Re:Neat (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JWman (1289510) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @11:27PM (#26662175)

      It's a logical end result of exponential growth.

      Actually, that logic is flawed. The assumption that we will continue to see exponential growth forever in anything is pretty flawed, simply because of different laws kicking in. Look at trends in computer ownership, or TVs or anything else that hits its prime and hits it big. For a good while these things do have an exponential growth curve, but obviously that growth cannot continue indefinitely, or people would have to start buying two or three TV sets at a time every couple of days, and then the next week buy 3 TV sets every day, and then every hour....

      This is the fundamental problem with extrapolation taken too far. The truth of the matter is that you have no idea what the curve looks like, regardless of how much data you have. It could be exponential growth for thousands of years, and then suddenly take a nose dive and drop back down close to where it started, or perhaps grow faster. Extrapolating too far is foolishness that happens far too often.
      I've heard the discussion of converting all matter into computational elements, but a FAR more likely growth curve for computing power is not exponential, but sigmoidal [wikipedia.org].

      Thus, I would argue that converting all matter into computational elements would be the asymptotic 'end game' of technology that we will never quite reach, but always be moving towards (though our progress will slow). Many growth patterns follow a sigmoidal curve.

      • Re:Neat (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:04AM (#26662707)

        Ok, my logic isn't based on math, it's based on common sense.

        Go look at a a modern factory using current robotics. Do you notice that the factory could make some of the parts used in the machines in that factory? And that the robots can do basically anything that a human hand can do, given a proper setup?

        It's perfectly reasonable to extrapolate just a LITTLE bit and imagine a very large factory that can make every part used in the factory itself, from the ICs in the control circuitry to lubricants for the moving parts. Said factory already exists, it is just distributed across the world and currently depends on human labor for many things.

        Now, what ultimate needs does this factory have, if you could replace the human intelligence of the workers with really smart software? Well, it needs various metals and carbon and silicon and all sorts of other stuff that happen to be found all over our solar system, not just on earth.

        It also would need energy, which happens to be freely created and dumped into space by our star.

        So common sense is that once such a factory exists and no longer is constrained by human labor for it to grow, it could exponentially grow to swallow up all the available matter in the solar system, almost.

        Yes, the curve would be sigmoidal...somewhere around the point that it comes time to assimilate pluto or Kuiper belt objects, the rate of growth would level off. And we'd never convert EVERY last scrap of matter, it would be an asymptotic end game at that point, yes.

        But what's the difference between converting 90% of everything within a a light day of the Sun and 100% from a practical perspective? Either way, it is going to be pretty darn impressive for those humans that live to see it. (if any do)

      • Thank goodness for you math geeks.

        I'm a big singularity hopeful - however I must admit, begrudgingly, that there seems to be quite a bit of confirmation bias amongst the singularity luminaries.

        I had seen this function, but couldn't recall the name.

        A beautiful (and strongly supported) counter-example to run-away, or perpetual, exponential growth.

        After all, in my mind at least it makes sense to draw at least some analogy between speciation & population growth and technologic progress & adoption.

        I just

    • by Nick Ives (317)

      Don't speak so freely of the spiral nemesis lest we incur the wrath of the anti-spirals!

    • Please refer to the second law of thermodynamics [wikipedia.org].

      • Please look into the sky. Notice the fireball of energy being thrown into space every second? Yeah, I thought not. I suspect the limit is not energy, but matter : we can grab every scrap of matter in the solar system, and still not have enough to surround the sun completely with solar cells.
        • Great post, what's your point? The sun obeys the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

          • You seem to think that this flood of energy is insufficient to overcome entropy and convert all available matter within a light day into machine parts that use this energy.
            • "Overcome entropy"? It most absolutely cannot: the sun is not an infinite source of energy. Suppose for simplicity's sake that 100% of the sun's output is captured by the earth, thus making "sun + earth" a closed system. Now, the sun has more useful energy than the earth; because of the energy differential, the sun will transfer energy to the earth until the two are equal. This transferal of energy performs "work". Once the energy levels of the earth and sun are equivalent, no more energy will be transferre

              • Look, whoever you are. I know what the second law is, and I've taken about 6 physics courses. Of course entropy wins in the end, but the sun has billions of years (4 or 5 at least) worth of fuel left.

                What I MEANT was that we'll build machines that will replicate themselves and use a chunk of solar output to run, using all the matter we have. Yeah, net results, the decrease in entropy in the machines will be more than compensated by an increase in entropy in the sun, and in the radiation coming from the s

                • Ok, I'm agreeing with most of what you posted, right up until here:

                  And actually, even entropy MIGHT be beatable. Somehow, the world we live in was created, and whatever made the big bang obviously REDUCED entropy. Maybe technology could one day create new universes, starting from a state of maximal order.

                  You're trying to use a theoretical event to support the contradiction of an observable law. Science shouldn't work that way.

                  Anyway, I'm going to return to your original post, because in re-reading it I'm beginning to think I objected primarily because of the absurdity of the scope:

                  One thing most 'futurists' agree on is that the ultimate 'end game' of technology appears to be the conversion of all matter in the solar system into machine parts and computational elements.

                  For starters, "all matter in the solar system" includes the sun, which we've already pretty conclusively decided was the power source, which I wouldn't consider eq

                  • Ok, I meant all "non burning plasma" matter. Scooping gas from the sun will probably never be efficient.

                    As for theoretical event : while the big bang is a theory, it defies logic to say that entropy cannot even be decreased. For there to be increasing disorder, there has to be order, originally.

                    And one theory for the big bang points out that the universe, as we see it, seems kind of arbitrary. A simple explanation for why it exists is that the big bang process didn't just happen once, but happens many, m

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:25PM (#26661811)
    35 bits per electron?! This kind of resets a few common assumptions about how much data can be stored in matter. Feynman was right.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There's_Plenty_of_Room_at_the_Bottom [wikipedia.org]
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @10:47PM (#26661957) Journal

      If I understand holography and what they're doing correctly (and I DID work as a tech in Emmett Leith's lab so I have some clue), they're transforming the information.

      Yes, each electron has information from 35 bits. But more than one electron has that same information, encoded differently. How many storage electrons do they need to encode it in a way that is recoverable?

      The information per electron is the total information encoded divided by the total number of electrons needed to encode it at a high enough resolution to be recovered.

      Also: The illustration of the way they're encoding it looks like it's not just electrons that encode it, but also their absence. Add in HOLES to the count of "things encoding the bits".

      I'll be surprised if the total comes out to more than one bit per electron site. (Note that they may get more than one such site per atom.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It sounds like cheating to me as well. They don't seem to be counting the MOLECULES necessary for creating the interference patterns. How many support atoms does it take to encode each bit of information? If it takes more than a couple for each bit, then how is this better than IBM's effort?

        From the article:

        On the two-dimensional surface of the copper, electrons zip around, behaving as both particles and waves, bouncing off the carbon monoxide molecules the way ripples in a shallow pond might interact with

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @11:57PM (#26662363)

    The article didn't go into any detail about this.

    Anyone know how many libraries of congress this is?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by textstring (924171)

      35 bits is about 4x10^-13 LoC's, taking 1 LoC = 10TB.
      so, you could fit the entire library of congress in about 9x10^-12 grams of copper.

  • Now all we need to do is shrink a STM so that it fits into a SATA HDD 2.5 or 3.5" form factor :)
  • Yeah but... (Score:3, Funny)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:33AM (#26662819) Journal

    Read the fine print

    "35 bits per electron.*"

    1 kilobit=1000 bits
    1 bit=1000 bquarks

    Goddamn marketers! It's 1024!

  • by kkrajewski (1459331) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:34AM (#26662831) Journal
    I want the most bytes per MOLE next time I shop for a hard disk!
  • They're going to need a few more bits for the root password.

  • With density like that we could encode ourselves, our philosophies and all else in our experience in a thimble or two.

    Was it Greg Bear who explored this in "Blood Music"?

    • With density like that we could encode ourselves, our philosophies and all else in our experience in a thimble or two.

      Sadly, most people's philosophies and whatnot could be encoded and fit into a thimble using 1800's technology.

  • by qzak (1115661)
    I hear this is replacing Blu-Ray as the basis for the storage disk for the PS4, which now has an estimated MSRP of $4260285021.99.
    • I hear this is replacing Blu-Ray as the basis for the storage disk for the PS4, which now has an estimated MSRP of $4260285021.99.

      Yeah I read that, too. The author of the article said we should buy the PS4 instead of Nintendo's next console (called the Ur-In) because it cost them $4,260,286,021.00 to make. He rationalized that since Sony's bleeding $1,000 per console (not including the cost of their unsold inventory...) so we should pony up because they're giving to us whereas Nintendo's making an evil profit.

      In other news, Sony's announced layoffs...

  • From TFA:

    At the other end of the transporter, you need to have some blob of atoms that represents Captain Kirk but has no infomation in it. What would that look like?

    A lot like William Shatner currently does, I would imagine.

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