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optical archival tape

  [vote for,

Instead of storing information into CDs, or magnetic data tape.

Why not combine the two?

Basically the writer would actively burn what is essentially a long 2D barcode on to an optical tape media. The resultant film data will be visible under a microscope.

To read the data, it is done via lenses and a highspeed camera system.


The data doesn't have to be encoded as a custom binary type. You could try QR/Datamatrix if you feel the need for futureproofing. Or you can etch an image if you think that is needed as well (Maybe the first part of the tape is purely analogue text describing the data and how to decode the digital data.


This would ensure that data will be accessible in the future, with minimum equipment compared to other technologies. (Since it is visible to the visible eye by a microscope)

mofosyne, Mar 17 2015

Optical Tapes are used in films http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_tape
[mofosyne, Mar 17 2015]

Plumbers' Teflon tape http://www.acmehowt...ral/teflon-tape.php
As mentioned in an annotation. [Vernon, Mar 17 2015]

About computers and paper tape http://www.computer...emory-storage/8/326
As mentioned in an annotation. [Vernon, Mar 17 2015]

Teflon Archive The_20Teflon*_20Archive
Another Idea that uses Teflon for archival storage [Vernon, Mar 17 2015]

Resting on my laurels... A_20staple_20form_20of_20memory
[normzone, Mar 18 2015]


       Any suggestions for a flexible, transparent substrate that's going to be stable for a very long time ?
8th of 7, Mar 17 2015

       The data may be visible under an optical microscope, but so is the data on a CD.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 17 2015

       //Any suggestions for a flexible, transparent substrate that's going to be stable for a very long time ?//   

       Forget transparent. Burn through the tape to toggle a bit, and use stainless steel. And you wouldn't want to use a standard barcode, because those have a defined length dimension. You'd probably want to use the equivalent of a long series of 1D barcodes, with each one written across the width of the tape.
MechE, Mar 17 2015

       A kind of tape that probably can last a long time is Teflon tape used by plumbers when sealing pipe-connections (see link). Also, this Idea reminds me of old-fashioned "paper tape" used early in the computer industry...literally a long strip of paper with holes punched through it. I suppose that nowadays we could put microscopic holes in the Teflon tape, and read it easily enough.
Vernon, Mar 17 2015

       Thin stainless steel strip - almost foil - could be laser-drilled to a high bit density and would certainly be durable. Optical reading would be very simple, by transmission.
8th of 7, Mar 17 2015

       I would strongly advocate the use of clams. There are clam species that live for >1000 years.   

       If data were encoded by using an ion gun to embed distinctive metal ions into the shells of these clams when young, it would be possible to recover the data later by using laser ablation coupled with mass spec. The data would be secure not only for the lifetime of the clam, but potentially for some time afterwards.   

       There is a precedent for this. Clam-divers in Vanuatu traditionally scribe a series of marks into the shells of a proportion of the clams they recover, and then return these to the seabed. It is held to be a sign of good fortune when a clam is recovered which bears these scribed marks.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 17 2015

       Any clams that claimed good fortune in Vanuatu this week would probably be denounced for liars and hit with a hammer.
lurch, Mar 17 2015

       Teflon tape is stretchy, which may be a difficulty.
notexactly, Mar 17 2015

       Thing is, all the stuff we think is important and ought to be preserved for posterity - future generations will quite rightly consider it crap anyway.   

       Of course, there will probably be historians, but they make their living by speculating from limited data, so we'll be doing them a favour if our current information is mostly lost or hard to retrieve. What we ought to do (if we're worried about the livelihoods of future historians) is to write about 0.1% of the important stuff on leather, then bury it at widely-scattered locations, preferably in peat bogs.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 17 2015

       Hmmm ... how about tattooing 1% of the important stuff on politcians, then bury them at widely- scattered locations, preferably in peat bogs, hoping for a 10% success rate for "natural" tanning ?
8th of 7, Mar 17 2015

       So... you couldn't have a "recall" election until after the politician had been "archived"?
lurch, Mar 18 2015

       Unlikely ... why, do you think that might be a problem ?
8th of 7, Mar 18 2015


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