Did you ever stop to consider how all of this digital data we live with today is going handle long-term storage? The typical hard drive is rated for about 5 years. The new SSDs fare better, with an expected storage of 8 to 10 years. Even a physical DVD is only good for 25 years or so. With that said, how can we store all of this data for the far-flung future? A French nuclear waste management company may have found the answer.
ANDRA has created an industrial grade sapphire disk that can store data, and it should be good to go for millions of years. The prototype was created by taking two thin, 20 cm wide disks and etching them with platinum on one side. Then the two disks are molecularly fused back together, sealing the etchings on the inside.
Naturally, a custom-made sapphire and platinum storage disk is not going to be cheap, and the current rate is about US $30,738. But the finished product can store up to 40,000 pages of text or images, perfect to pass on today’s Facebook status or a dire warning about the effects of pollution and political upheaval.
Now I have to wonder if history has repeated itself, and maybe we should take another hard look at those Egyptian gems. Wouldn’t it be awful if we have the secret to the universe right in our hands, and someone is just wearing it around their neck as a decoration?
Sapphire (Greek: σάπφειρος; sappheiros, “blue stone”) is a gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminium oxide (α-Al2O3). Trace amounts of other elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, copper or magnesium can give corundum blue, yellow, pink, purple, orange or greenish color. Chromium impurities in corundum yield a red tint, and the resultant gemstone is called a ruby.