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Pacific Data Storage

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Back in the 19somethings, geomagnetic surveys provided the first strong evidence for continental drift. The mid-oceanic sea-floor was found to have alternating stripes of north/south magnetisation, running parallel to deep-sea trenches.

These alternating stripes were caused by periodic reversals in the Earth's magnetic field, combined with the continual emergence of new volcanic rock spreading from the deep-see trenches. As new rock emerged, its iron-rich minerals took on the prevailing field direction before solidifying and the continuing to migrate outwards, with its magnetic field locked in place.

Maps of these patterns are beautiful, showing a series of alternating stripes (north/south polarity). I imagine that a close-up magnetometric view of a recording tape would look roughly similar.

But I digress.

We've now mapped out this field pattern pretty well, and all the data is stored away somewhere safe and sound. We no longer need the magnetic archive of the rocks themselves.

So, MaxCo Data and Livestock, Inc., is launching a scheme to re- use the magnetic storage capabilities of these deep-sea rocks. We have developed a rover capable of travelling slowly across the vast pointless expanses of the ocean floors. This rover (the MaxMag) is capable of generating magnetic pulses sufficiently strong to re- polarize the iron-containing elements even in long-solidified sea- floor rocks.

Due to the need for the field to penetrate through several metres of overlying silt before reaching reasonably solid and stable rock, we estimate that patches of ocean floor can be re-magnetized with a chosen polarity on a resolution of about 10 metres. This means that the Pacific sea-floor will have a storage capacity of about 1.5 Terabits, whilst the smaller Atlantic sea-floor can be used for checksums.

Although this storage capacity is not huge compared to modern hard drives, it is very secure against fire and flood. Data written in this way should endure for millions, if not billions of years. Companies and governments needing the ultimate in secure, disaster-proof data-storage are queueing up to avail themselves of this facility.

For an additional charge, MaxCo will perform regular data- checking and servicing on a millennial cycle. Data which is approaching subduction zones will be read, and re-encoded in the freshly- produced sea-floor rocks alongside mid-ocean trenches.

For short-term storage, special rates are available for regions around Hawaii, Iceland and so forth, where data can be guaranteed stable only for a few millennia.

Data read-out is, of course, a concern. Current read-out rates are approximately 0.01 bits per second, using a sensitive magnetometer mounted on the MaxMag rover itself. However, we are now developing a fleet of eight nimble reading-only-rovers, and expect to attain readout rates of over 2 bytes per minute in the near future. However, access times will be dependent on the location of your data, and on seasonal factors.

MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 27 2011

Magnetic patterns in the seafloor http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1999/ofr-99-0132/
[MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 27 2011]

Reed-Solomon coding http://www.cs.cmu.e..._solomon_codes.html
Use this for error correction and redundancy. [neelandan, Mar 04 2011]

STOP PRESS: Joint Venture Agreement speeds data access! Kiritimaticentrifugomobile
[MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 04 2011]

[link]






       you failed to mention the write rate. Pray tell what sort of speed we can anticipate. Also a little curious about the track width re: the continuing warping of the media itself will effect the life of the data. My money is still in scribbling messages on the moon.
WcW, Feb 27 2011
  

       But the Earth's crust is recycled and melted down through tectonic plate activity ever few hundred million years. To avoid data loss you'll need backup storage on another plant - essentially a trans-galactic RAID array.
hippo, Feb 28 2011
  

       The moon, with no tectonic plate activity, should be suitable for a backup. There is scope for a low-res magnetic record and a higher res optical one.   

       You could have solar powered rovers roaming the surface, writing the data in.   

       Readout could be by lunar satellites - or by telescope from earth.
neelandan, Feb 28 2011
  

       [neelandan] Yes, but you're forgetting that the sun will grow to a red giant star in a few billion years' time, engulfing the Earth and the Moon. You need the cosmic equivalent of an off-site backup.
hippo, Feb 28 2011
  

       So, how to interfere in the first few microseconds of universe formation, to modify the patterns of cosmic background radiation?
pocmloc, Feb 28 2011
  

       [WcW] Write rate is currently 1bpm, or slightly faster than the read rate. Others see this as a limitation. We prefer to think of it as a means to ensure that available capacity is not filled too quickly.   

       [hippo] see para.9 (it's between paras 8 and 11, and closer to the former)   

       [vernon] reactionless drive is still not going to work.   

       [neelandan] you're not looking at this from a practicality point of view, are you?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 28 2011
  

       It would be a glorious coincidence if the natural magnetic data was 42 in binary. At some point it must have been 0101010.
marklar, Feb 28 2011
  

       I think that, by definition, an alternating series of 1s and 0s must be 0101010 quite frequently.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 28 2011
  

       [Max] only half the time
hippo, Feb 28 2011
  

       //an error correction scheme//   

       See the last bit of para 7. It is in between the middle part of para 7, and the start of para 8.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 28 2011
  

       You sure? I mean on error correction? A simple one-bit checksum at least lets you identify an error; a two-but checksum would allow pretty good error correction, n'est ce pas?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 28 2011
  

       Well, then we're in business. I figure the Atlantic is good for four bits for every Pacific byte.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 28 2011
  

       Any thoughts to the location of the file system? Mediterranean perhaps? Also, I am not sure if you want any Thomas, Richard or Harold reading this data off the sea bed with their own read head, so pehaps some encryption. At last a possible use for the Yucca Mountain OTP, stored safely as faults in the crystaline structure of a plasma deposition created diamond.
4whom, Feb 28 2011
  

       You might use some of the block convolution codes for the purpose of error correction and redundancy. Sort of that used for recording on CD and DVD's.
neelandan, Mar 04 2011
  

       Let's consider the head for a little:   

       Since GPS doesn't work down there, the head will perhaps need to be zeroed (parked?) from time to time.
It may need parking if you should want to carry the data somewhere, and there should be a little diagram on it to explain the effect of smoke particles should they get between the head and the platter.
  

       Let's say the MTBF of the head is 100,000hrs. That's a new head every 12MB or so.
Ling, Mar 04 2011
  

       [Ling] you raise a valid point, but our engineers have already begun to address this problem. We have got in contact with the developers of the Kiribaticentrifugomobile <link>, with which this idea has an almost preternatural affinity. I'm sure the details are self-inexplicatory.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 04 2011
  
      
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