Hitachi has created a new data storage method that it thinks will last for hundreds of years. Binary data can be etched onto small squares of quartz glass that are much more durable than other data storage mechanisms (such as CDs). From The Register:
The glass has been shown to retain its data undamaged after being heated to 1,000° Celsius (1,832° Fahrenheit) for over two hours, and is impervious to radiation, water, and most forms of chemicals. Hitachi said the data could conceivably be retrievable hundreds of millions of years in the future.
“We believe data will survive unless this hard glass is broken,” said senior researcher Takao Watanabe.
It’s that last sentence that gets me, “unless the glass is broken.” It’s glass. You know, the extremely fragile, exceptionally breakable material that shatters everyday. Even if these 2cm square, 2mm thick pieces of glass are unusually hard, how well are they really going to hold up in the real world? The storage for these tiny storage units will have to particularly protective if we expect them to last hundreds of years into the future.
If we really intend to leave info for future generations, this glass is going have to survive the likes of natural and man-made disasters that are sure to be powerful enough to break glass. It may be the best bet we have at the moment (after all, heat and water won’t damage it) but it still seems impractical when you think it it in in-the-wild terms.