World's Smallest Schoolbag!
In the near future, all your school textbooks will be available on the computer. With advances in computer storage, you might be able to store all your textbooks in a device the size of the full stop at the end of this sentence. That's not very practical, but that would make it the world's smallest schoolbag!
Scientists and engineers are always trying to fit more "bits" (the unit of computer storage) into less and less space, so that we can store more videos, books, music and so on in smaller drives. Recently, the brainiacs at IBM were able to squeeze a single bit of data into just 12 atoms, creating the world's smallest storage device.
Computer Storage: 0101100011110010011...
Data on a computer is stored as 0s and 1s (known as binary digits, or bits). The hard disk on your computer has millions of small magnetic particles that are magnetized as 0 or 1, which are read in sequence when you want to listen to music, or look at a picture. A byte is 8 bits, and can be used to store an alphabet letter such as "Y". To store the word "Youngzine", you need 9 bytes, or 72 bits.
Recently at IBM, scientists have been able to squeeze a bit into just 12 atoms (and a word like "Youngzine" under 1000 atoms). Unlike today's hard disk where magnetic particles point in the same direction (like a compass), the atoms in IBM's device point in opposite directions. So you can put more of them in a tinier space without them influencing each other.
It will be a long time before this research becomes a practical product you can buy at Wal-mart, because it was constructed very carefully under very cold temperatures. But it has a lot of promise.
Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel Corporation (the company that makes the CPU, or the brain inside your computer), predicted that computing power as well as storage capacity will double every 18 months. His prediction has been true for more than 40 years now - see chart on the right!
Just take a look at the progression of storage from 1970s to 2000s:
In the 1970s, the only way to store something on the computer was a "floppy drive" (see right), that would store much less than a single photo.
- In the early 1980s, hard disks became popular - even then, early hard disks only had a few megabytes (1000s of bytes) - hardly enough to store even one Lady Gaga (er, Beatles) song
- In the 1990s, hard disks grew to several gigabytes (1000s of megabytes). The iPod allowed people to carry entire music collections in their pocket.
In the 2000s, they grew to several terabytes (1000s of gigabytes) so people could store tens of movies. In the meantime, "flash" drives with tens of gigabytes allowed people to carry lots of data in their pockets.
- Big servers (like those used by Google or Facebook) now have several petabytes (1000s of terabytes) of storage!
- Wow, wow, wow.. wonder where this will end?