Hitachi develops incorruptible quartz glass-based data storage

Back when compact discs were first coming out, they were touted as being able to store data “forever.” As it turns out, given no more than a decade or so, they can and do degrade.,,Hitachi has unveiled a system that really may allow data to last forever – or at least, for several hundred million years. It involves forming microscopic dots within a piece of quartz glass, those dots serving as binary code.

The idea is that eons after the dots are applied to the glass, a person (or whatever’s around then) should be able to easily read them using nothing more than an optical microscope – no medium-specific device, such as a CD player, will be necessary. Hopefully, the concept of binary code will still be understood.

The current prototype measures two centimeters (0.8 inches) square by two millimeters thick, and incorporates four layers of dots. It currently has a memory capacity of 40 megabytes per square inch, which is roughly equivalent to that of a music CD. The researchers believe, however, that adding more layers to boost its capacity should be doable.

The glass square has withstood exposure to high-temperature flames along with various harsh chemicals, and survived being heated to 1,000º C for two hours. Not surprisingly, it is also unaffected by radio waves or immersion in water. Of course, glass is breakable, although quartz is known for being particularly hard…

Human beings aren’t especially good at long-term conceptualizing. Wall Street types think it’s a big deal to understand the value of information beyond 3 months. Most politicians think in terms of a year or two. The spookier types who prattle about Methuselah and Noah walk around with all their knowledge stuck into a paper volume assembled by a committee only 7 centuries ago – and first editions are stuck in museums.

Having original and basic knowledge recorded and accessible for millenia makes all the sense in the world. Aiding future historians with insight into the dimness of our earlier visions, records.

Man comes to his sister’s aid – kills burglar – his own son

A Connecticut man responding to his sister’s call for help during an apparent burglary at her home next door, shot and killed a masked intruder who turned out to be his own teenage son…

Tyler Giuliano, 15, was wearing a ski mask and appeared to be armed when he was shot on Thursday by his father, who authorities declined to identify, said Lieutenant J. Paul Vance, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police.

The father’s sister, who lives next door, was home alone before 1 a.m. when she called him to report someone trying to break into her home. The father went over to investigate and was approached by a masked person dressed entirely in black and holding a shiny object…

“Believing the suspect was armed with a weapon and about to attack him, the (father) discharged his personal handgun at the suspect,” police said.

Giuliano was pronounced dead at the scene.

“(He) was lying on the ground in the driveway with obvious gunshot injuries, holding a weapon,” the statement said.

Vance declined to further describe the weapon.

Phew! You could write fourteen books, movie and TV scripts for this one.

Pic of the Day


REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

A painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and representing Mona Lisa is pictured behind a curtain during a preview presentation in a vault in Geneva September 26, 2012.

The Mona Lisa Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Zurich, will present September 27, a painting and historical, comparative and scientific evidence, which demonstrate that there have always been two portraits of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, the “Earlier Version”, made 10 years earlier than the “Joconde” that is displayed in Le Louvre in Paris.

Fascinating. She looks younger to me – and definitely more demure. 🙂

Bored? Here’s why — maybe!

Canadian researchers — including a professor from the University of Guelph — have come up with a new, precise definition of boredom based on the mental processes that underlie the condition.

Although many people may see boredom as trivial and temporary, it actually is linked to a range of psychological, social and health problems, says Guelph psychology professor Mark Fenske. He’s among authors of a new study in Perspectives on Psychological Science…

“It’s an amazingly under-studied area given how universal the experience is,” Fenske said.

“The fact that it’s difficult to define is, in part, why there has been so little research done. We need to have a common definition, something we all can agree on, of what boredom is.”

A scientific definition is needed, not only to accommodate the different characteristics of boredom that have already been established, but also to bridge across a variety of theoretical perspectives, Fenske added.

The researchers, led by York University professor John Eastwood, set out to better understand the mental processes that fuel feelings of boredom.

They found that attention and awareness are keys to the aimless state. After reviewing existing psychological science and neuroscience studies, they defined boredom as “an aversive state of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity,” which arises from failures in one of the brain’s attention networks.

In other words, you become bored when:

• you have difficulty paying attention to the internal information, such as thoughts or feelings, or outside stimuli required to take part in satisfying activity;

• you are aware that you’re having difficulty paying attention; and

• you blame the environment for your sorry state (“This task is boring”; “There is nothing to do”).

“At the heart of it is our desire to engage with the world or some other mental activity, and that takes attention,” Fenske said. “When we cannot do this —that seems to be what leads to frustration and the aversive state we call ‘boredom.’”

I hope you don’t find this topic, uh, boring!