Every day parts of human history are lost as materials degrade, including paper, film, and more. While digital memory can help prevent this by allowing perfect copies to be produced, even it has a relatively short lifespan. Researchers at the University of Southampton though have created an optical memory device with the potential to store data for over one million years.
Using an ultrafast laser, the researchers encode five dimensional data into quartz crystals. The laser's energy causes the molecules to assemble into a highly stable structure, with the structure's three dimensional position, size, and orientation (for five total dimensions) representing the data's values. These quartz structures are highly stable and can survive for over a million years and up to 1000 ºC temperatures. Also, the discs could potentially store 360 terabytes of data, each.
Large companies and groups that have large archives of data could benefit from this technology, as hard drives may only last for five to ten years. Of course the human race could also benefit from this technology, by leaving memory devices about our cultures for whatever civilization may come after us.
Source: University of Southampton