Diamonds May Soon Be Your Data's Best Friend
Physicists are investigating the long-term data storage properties of diamonds.
We all know how important it is to back up our data. The more important the data is — family photos, legal documents, and so — the more critical it is to have a copy stashed away somewhere safe. Something we don't like to think about, though, is that our current storage media degrade over time. Hard drives, solid state drives, DVDs, you name it. For each and every one of us, a day is coming when we reach for data we can no longer retrieve. And as digital cameras and other devices continue to increase the amount of data we generate, finding ample storage space is an issue in the first place. Now the New York Times reports that physicists at City College of New York have released a paper that suggests storing our data in diamonds may be the solution. Diamonds don't degrade as other materials do, and even a tiny sliver of a diamond smaller than a grain of rice and thinner than paper can already hold a hundred times the data a DVD can.
It's a fascinating idea based on a diamond's imperfections. All diamonds have them, from the Zoe diamond to the ones you see in jewelry case at the mall.
Zoe diamond (SOTHEBYS)
Diamonds are made up of carbon, but occasionally a nitrogen atom will sneak into the diamond's molecular structure, creating a negatively charged "nitrogen vacancy center." If you remove a carbon atom next to the nitrogen atom, a space is left behind, ad it's this space in which data can be stored.
The paper's authors have already been testing how data can be stored in these empty cavities, like these grayscale photos of Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger they "painted" using electrons.
(CARLOS A. MERILES AND SIDDHARTH DHOMKAR)
The presence of absence of an electron works much like the 1s and 0s of standard digital storage. To add and electron, they use a green laser; to remove one, they use red.
DVDs encodes a 0 as a depressions, or "pit," in its single surface. In diamond storage, though, electrons can be written in layers, allowing for much higher storage capacities. And, as any British secret agent knows, "diamonds are forever."
An issue with the medium is that, being light-based, a blast of strong sunlight might erasedata. This is obviously something that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, researchers have joked about a person carrying her wedding photos inside her engagement ring.
Also, of course, there's the issue of cost. A diamond of any kind can be used — it doesn't need to be an expensive one, though "the bigger the diamond, the more defects, the more places to put information,” a grad student who worked on the paper, Jack Henshaw, told the Times. But still, it is diamonds we're talking about. Maybe the next study should look into storing data in a cubic zirconia.
Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap
- The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
- This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
- Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.
Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco!
Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
- To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
- Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
- There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
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