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Interstellar Storage

Store information in space
  (+6)
(+6)
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Hoping that government investments in space continue, the cost of interplanetary probes will only decline, and hopefully interstellar probes will one day be possible.

At the speed of light, a signal would take 4.367 years to reach Alpha Centauri. Assuming a data rate of 100 MB/s (easily achievable by the time we're ready for interstellar probes), 12.240 PB of data will be in transit when the first bit reaches the probe. If the probe sends this signal directly back to earth (using "solar" energy from Alpha Centauri), a total of 24.480 EB will be in transit, stored in space.

Latency is an obvious problem, but the use case here would be very special. It could serve as a time capsule of sorts or as part of wider research into ultra-high- refractive-index storage media.

kevinthenerd, May 13 2013

Empty space as a storage medium
[xaviergisz, May 14 2013]

Star system distances http://xkcd.com/1212/
As described by our favourite memes. Storage time could be based on which star systems you send the data at. [sprints, May 16 2013]

Totally not the same idea. The_20100_20million_20year_20project
Some good discussion though. [2 fries shy of a happy meal, May 17 2013]

[link]






       hmm, I'm sure this has been posted before. Give me a sec.   

       Can't find it but I'm sure it had to do with beaming information to a spot in the galaxy where the Earth will be in the future.   

       This is reminiscent of the mercury delay lines which were used as memory in the early digital computers.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2013
  

       //Can't find it but I'm sure it had to do with beaming information to a spot in the galaxy where the Earth will be in the future.   

       Erm, aren't we doing that already, seeing as the broadcasts are more or less omni-directional.   

       I am not going in the deep freeze for 1 quadrillion years just to catch that episode of Bagpuss I missed the first time around.
not_morrison_rm, May 13 2013
  

       Won't signal degradation be an issue? Also it would require sending a probe to one of the Centauris, and I suspect that would cost more than just making a 24.48EB hard drive. + anyway.
DIYMatt, May 13 2013
  

       //deep freeze for 1 quadrillion years just to catch that episode of Bagpuss I missed the first time around// Hey, don't diss Bagpuss. If you're looking for a model around which to base your life, you could do a lot worse than Bagpuss.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2013
  

       Oh god, I've gotten the world's first Bagpuss fatwa.
not_morrison_rm, May 14 2013
  

       //Can't find it but I'm sure it had to do with beaming information to a spot in the galaxy where the Earth will be in the future.//   

       How would that work? There is no path between two points shorter than a straight line, and no speed you can travel at faster than the speed of light. If you beam information out at the speed of light, it will necessarily reach and pass any point where the Earth might be long before the Earth gets there.   

       As for the idea, latency isn't really the problem as such. The biggest problems you have are noise rejection and inability to randomly access the data. Anyway, 25 exabytes or so isn't all THAT much data, particularly by the time this technology becomes feasible. The current amount of global data is probably around 3 zettabytes, or about 3000 exabytes. Our ability to store data has been increasing at nearly a geometric rate for the past few years, but our ability to transmit data has not. You're never going to come out ahead by attempting to use high latency data transmission as a means of storing data. Just build better hard drives, and get a whole bunch of them.
ytk, May 14 2013
  

       //Can't find it but I'm sure it had to do with beaming information to a spot in the galaxy where the Earth will be in the future.//   

       //How would that work? There is no path between two points shorter than a straight line, and no speed you can travel at faster than the speed of light. If you beam information out at the speed of light, it will necessarily reach and pass any point where the Earth might be long before the Earth gets there.//   

       I can't remember. Maybe it wasn't light... radio waves... black holes ... something-something... bungston ... something.   

       ... nope, lost it. I just know I've read something very similar to this. Here.
(+) btw.
  

       The galactic centre is ~27,000 light years away. The black hole in the middle distorts space and produces a "gravitational lensing" effect. A path from Earth to the black hole, round it in a hairpin loop, and back again will take ~54,000 years to get back to us.   

       I wish you luck building an antenna with a beamwidth small enough to make this one work.
Wrongfellow, May 14 2013
  

       //I can't remember. Maybe it wasn't light... radio waves// I know what you're talking about. I think it was a physical time capsule. The time capsule probe would be traveling at much less than the speed of light but in a straight line, so it could rendezvous with Earth on the other side of the galaxy. It would never work.
DIYMatt, May 17 2013
  

       Aha! Found it!
You are right it was a capsule [link], but why do you say it wouldn't work? Too many unknowable variables?
  

       Doesn't Bagpuss look like Garfield?
wjt, May 19 2013
  

       Well, well. I just thought of this idea, and it's already here...+
Ling, Feb 25 2015
  

       So, [Ling], you're what, 1.75 light-years away?
8th of 7, Feb 25 2015
  

       Yeah, looks like I just received the opening announcement, but I was thinking more like Earth/Mars/Earth data delay storage.
Ling, Feb 25 2015
  
      
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