Americans consume an astounding 4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes (4 zettabytes) of electronically transmitted data per year in their spare time, sucking down over 34 gigabytes of data per day.
Information is stored in formations of zeros and ones. Every single 0 or 1 is a bit. 8 bits is a byte. Try to imagine 4 zettabytes of data: 0110100000110001110010101010010000111110010101010101010111 repeated gazillion times…
Sorry if I sound a bit (or even a byte) patronizing.
Recently, IBM Research announced it can now store that same bit of information in just 12 atoms.
From 1,000,000 to 12 — that’s a dramatic breakthrough that not only has the potential to make our computers and devices smaller and more powerful, but also holds enormous implications for the way entire industries operate.
The ability to move single atoms, one of the smallest particles of any element in the universe, is crucial to IBM’s research in the field of atomic-scale memory.
In 2012, IBM scientists announced the creation of the world’s smallest magnetic memory bit, made of just 12 atoms. This breakthrough could transform computing by providing the world with devices that have access to unprecedented levels of data storage.
But even nanophysicists need to have a little fun. In that spirit, the scientists moved atoms by using their scanning tunneling microscope to make … a movie, which has been verified by Guinness World Records™ as The World’s Smallest Stop-Motion Film. (From A Boy And His Atom: The World’s Smallest Movie IBM).
How to move atoms and make movies? IBM doesn’t make much secret of this as well:
This post is much indebted to the IBM research site.