What's the Latest Development?

A collaboration between scientists at the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and Eindhoven University of Technology has resulted in what may be, according to ORC supervisor Peter G. Kazansky, "the first document which will likely survive the human race." The document he's referring to is a "crystal" of nanostructured glass into which data is encoded using a high-speed laser. The information can be read with a scanning device similar to those used for DVDs along with a special optical microscope. The scientists have named their new invention "Superman memory crystal" for its similarities to the devices appearing in "Superman" (1978) and its sequels.

What's the Big Idea?

The team claims that a single DVD-sized disk using this storage method can contain an unprecedented 360 terabytes -- the equivalent of over 2,800 latest-generation quad-layer Blu-Ray DVDs -- and last for literally millions of years. In addition, the material remains stable at temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. Project head Jingyu Zhang says the crystal "could be highly useful for organizations with big archives. At the moment companies have to back up their archives every five to ten years because hard-drive memory has a relatively short lifespan."

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