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« Ideology and Nanotechnology | Main | Geoengineering Reconsidered »

May 22, 2007


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Nato Welch

I wrote post last year about Historic Changes in the very study of history itself. With human knowledge growing exponentially, is the problem really the durability of media? It seems the problem will be more one of knowledge drowning in obscurity (as Tim O'Reilly, Cory Doctorow often talk about) than decaying from neglect.

"Only wimps use tape backup: _real_ men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)" --Linus Torvalds.

Tristan Hambling

The memory diamond idea has some merit, abet the need to be able to actually extract digitally the info first, or it'll just be something resembling a shinny rock.


Tom Craver

Cool idea - but might the nanotubes still degenerate (i.e. bonds break and re-form differently) if it were dumped in a fire?

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Some bonds will disintegrate in a fire, some won't. I have heard that buckytubes can survive an ordinary fire.


Nato Welch

I can't believe I forgot this:


Some researchers are storing data in bacterial DNA. So long as the bacteria stay alive and reproduce, the data survives. Mutations are rare, so a culture of bacteria serve as a built-in checksum. :)

Data integrity through massive redundancy seems to me to be a much cheaper and more effective technique than trying to preserve just one instance of any given data.

Mike Treder, CRN

Yeah, but -- Nato, I think part of the point of the permapaper proposal is to preserve information in a medium potentially accessible after a general collapse of civilization through any of several possible disasters. Chances are better that a post-apocalypse society will be able to read a book than to access data stored in DNA!

Tom Craver

Hmm - how about programming algae to self-organize to display information encoded in their genome? Pond scum with a message!

Tom Mazanec

The algae would be good for sentences like "The Earth circles the Sun." or "All things are made of atoms." (and we could do this in parallel), but I was thinking more the Encyclopedia Britannica or the complete corpus of Hindu holy texts.

Kennita Watson

"The memory diamond idea has some merit, abet (sic) the need to be able to actually extract digitally the info first, or it'll just be something resembling a shinny (sic) rock."

We can do OCR. We could also encode the data in any number of ways, from Morse code to Braille to a buckytube CD -- and I'm sure there are ways I haven't thought of. I'm not worried.

Nato Welch

Mike - That's right. We have to write down the instructions on how to build the microscope and the DNA sequencing techniques somewhere.

Now, let's just hope they don't forget how to read the language we wrote it in...


Tom Mazanec

English might actually be good. The Mormon Church uses English, IIRC, and their meme of "preparedness" might make them good candidates for a surviving Church after a Collapse. English id almost like Latin in this respect, as well as being close to a "Universal Language".
On a related not, see http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_31_16/ai_64566668

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