Swedish data bunker can withstand nukes in style

Tom James @ 28-11-2008

Charles Stross points to this fun datacentre in Sweden:

This underground data center has greenhouses, waterfalls, German submarine engines, simulated daylight and can withstand a hit from a hydrogen bomb. It looks like the secret HQ of a James Bond villain.

And it is real. It is a newly opened high-security data center run by one of Sweden’s largest ISPs, located in an old nuclear bunker deep below the bedrock of Stockholm city, sealed off from the world by entrance doors 40 cm thick (almost 16 inches).

Also Strosscommenters point to another Dr. Strangelove-referencing movie-design essay on the design of supervillain’s lairs: Who Stole My Volcano? Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dematerialisation of Supervillain Architecture.

[via Charles Stross, via Magical Nihilism][image from the article on Royal Pingdom]

Looming digital dark age

Tom James @ 28-10-2008

The possibility of a digital dark age has been noted before, but I hadn’t realised the problem was this acute, according to Prof Jerome P. McDonough at the University of Illinois:

“Even over the course of 10 years, you can have a rapid enough evolution in the ways people store digital information and the programs they use to access it that file formats can fall out of date,” McDonough said.

Magnetic tape, which stores most of the world’s computer backups, can degrade within a decade. According to the National Archives Web site by the mid-1970s, only two machines could read the data from the 1960 U.S. Census: One was in Japan, the other in the Smithsonian Institution. Some of the data collected from NASA’s 1976 Viking landing on Mars is unreadable and lost forever.

It is a pity – and it highlights the importance of non-proprietary file types.

I imagine extracting data from obsolete formats will become a major industry in the future.

[story at Physorg][image from altemark on flickr]

Magnetic currents and efficient memory

Tom James @ 10-10-2008

Japanese physicists have found something called the Spin Seebeck Effect that could lead to practical magnetic batteries:

Essentially, this spin-segregated rod now has two electrodes and serves as the basis for a new kind of battery that produces “spin voltage,” or magnetic currents, which have been difficult to produce. With this tool, physicists can work toward developing more kinds of spintronics devices that store information magnetically.

Magnetic information storage is inherently more efficient than storing information electronically because there is no waste heat.

This is an interesting development. There seems to be a lot going on in the world of practical applications for quantum dots, quantum cryptography and spintronics. I suspect it will be one of those areas that heralds a lot of unexpected innovation over the next few years and decades.

[image from Ella’s Dad on flickr]

Google ponders offshore data center

Tom Marcinko @ 10-09-2008

fortsIt sounds like something Bruce Sterling foresaw as long ago as Islands in the Net: Larry Dignan on ZDNet looks at a patent for a structure that would sit offshore like an oil rig:

Google is pondering a floating data center that could be powered and cooled by the ocean. These offshore data centers could sit 3 to 7 miles offshore and reside in about 50 to 70 meters of water.

….Now wild-cards abound. Jurisdiction issues will occur. Are states really going to allow Google or anyone else place these pontoons offshore without some tax hit?

And will Google take advantage of such a setup to bank your data like the Swiss bank money?

[Rusting sea forts in the Thames estuary photographed by phault; story tip: Gregory Frost]

Stross on the future of lifelogging

Paul Raven @ 09-07-2007

Charles Stross has an essay up on the BBC website about lifelogging and the future of compact data storage. If you’ve read a lot of his novels or followed his blog closely, a lot of these ideas won’t be totally new to you, but it’s interesting to read them pared down and packaged for Joe Average.

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