New Scientist (02/02/10) Simonite, Timothy; Le Page, Michael
In the event of a disaster that destroys the vast majority of the world, humanity’s legacy will largely reside on data stored on hard drives. However, hard drives were never meant for long-term storage and no one can be sure how long they will last. The Canadian Conservation Institute’s (CCI’s) Joe Iraci says that although the most important data is backed up on magnetic tapes or optical discs, these formats cannot be trusted to last even five years. Iraci has conducted accelerated aging tests by exposing different forms of media to high heat and humidity. The tests found that the most reliable data storage devices are recordable CDs with a reflective layer of gold and a phthalocyanine dye layer. Many experts believe that after a major catastrophe only information that is written on paper will survive. “Even the worst kind of paper can last more than 100 years,” says the CCI’s Season Tse. Proposals to make a paper format that can store digital data for centuries using a system similar to bar codes have been slowed due to a lack of commercial interest. Another option is the Rosetta Disk, which holds descriptions and texts of 1,000 languages. The Rosetta Disk is made out of nickel, etched with text that is only readable at 1,000 times magnification. Each disk holds about 30,000 pages of text or images.
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