Femtoseconds, 5D Digital Data and Other Good News!

A photo of the 5D Digital Data Disk courtesy of The University of SOuthampton

A photo of the 5D Digital Data Disk courtesy of The University of SOuthampton

First, some Good News!

One quadrillionth of a second. If you’re trying to fit 360 TB of data on a small see-through disc the size of a two-pound coin, then that’s how fast the laser needs to flash in order to do so. Scientists from the Optoelectronics Electronics Research Centre at theUniversity of Southampton have perfected a technique, which they first demonstrated in 2013, where tiny laser etchings are made in a small disc of quartz. Their idea is to store all of humanity’s data on loads of these tiny discs, refered to as 5D Digital Data Disks, they can withstand 1000 degrees Celsius temperatures, 13.8 billion years on the shelf and hold huge amounts of data in a very small space.

The way in which this works lies with the laser. You might recognise the image above as being like the infamous Pointless trophy – glass with an image etched inside of it. However, the one above can store an incredible 360 TB of data. That’s 1440 times what my laptop can hold. The technique uses a laser which pulses every femtosecond (one quadrillionth of a second) and records layers of data in nanostructured dots that are etched into the quartz. These dots alter light passing through the glass and so the data can be read with optical microscopy machines.

Already, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been stored as a copy on a quartz disc, and many archiving systems and libraries could be using this method of data storage soon to keep all of their information safe in a stable and incredibly durable form. Watch this video to see how it looks writing the data: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP15blgK5oU 

Feel that weight in your pocket? Yeah that’s your phone, which for most people is the single most important item they own. If you happen to own an iPhone (as a few of us do) then it’s also the weight of your burdensome relationship with Apple. This relationship is ever-growing as they seek to make your life revolve around their own IOS software, leaving you helpless and scratching at the metaphorical walls of your Apple-shaped cage when you come to replacing your device. Surely you’ll get an another iPhone, no?!

Ok, I’m being ridiculous. iPhones are great. They work well, look cool, are very easy to use and, if you’re one of the 98% of uni students who own a mac, work with your laptop really easily. Not only that, but a larger proportion of the population already own phones made by alternative (or ‘indie’) brands. But the recent news that Apple’s sales of iPhones has possibly peaked in its growth shows that something is missing; either everyone in the world already has one (no!) or the famous phones are lacking a certain something…

There are actually some amazing alternatives. Let me tell you about a few of them.

The Nexus 6P. Via Phonearena.com

The Nexus 6P. Via Phonearena.com

I love the Google Nexus 6P. They also do a cheaper, plastic version of the Nexus (the 5X) but if you’re coming from a sleek metal iPhone then the 6P is more impressive. Made by Huawei, it has a big screen, much like the iPhone 6S, and fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers (good for watching stuff on the large screen) and good specs for the price. That price is considerably cheaper than a new Apple device at around £449. The camera is also brilliant, possibly better than the iPhone’s. Take a look at it and you’ll be pretty impressed.

Also look at the OnePlus 2. This comes from the Chinese manufacturer who made tech headlines for their insanely cheap and brilliant OnePlus One in 2014. The 2 has a fast Snapdragon 810 processor (found in way pricier phones like the Nexus 6P above), a great screen and is only £250 after the company’s price drop last week. If you can wait a bit longer, this summer should see the next OnePlus phones, which no doubt will be equally amazing and should retain its low price.

Finally, although there are better phones on the market, I don’t really like their design as much as I do my final pick. HTC’s M9 is really a brilliant looking phone. It has an all aluminium design, with stereo front speakers and iPhone-like build quality. If you want to look at a better-spec phone I suggest any of the new Samsung Galaxy products, but the HTC really does better them if you care what your devices look like. 

What are your thoughts on 5 D Digital Data and what phones are you most excited for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Written by Alex Kyrtsoudis for Good News and Positivity!