Nicknamed the “Superman memory crystal,” a new storage device made of nanostructured glass can archive 360 terabytes worth of information for billions of years. Created by scientists at the University of Southampton using femtosecond laser writing, the sliver of fused quartz coin can withstand temperatures up to 157 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). It is an example of 5D optical data storage.
The research team from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Center first experimentally tested the technology in 2013. The final iteration encodes files in five dimensions (size, orientation + 3 dimensional position of nanostructures), writing with ultrafast, intense pulses of light.
The team selected major documents from the pantheon of human history — including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Newton’s Opticks, Magna Carta, and Kings James Bible — to be digitally stored for up to 13.8 billion years, which happens to be the approximate current age of the universe.
With this technology, the human race is now capable of storing the entirety of its history in perpetuity. Once such a device is catapulted into space, it is possible that someday an extraterrestrial species will receive a cosmic ‘message in a bottle’ containing everything from ancient Sanskrit texts and Shakespeare to Seinfeld and Breaking Bad.
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