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让你的数据像钻石一样恒久远

更新时间:2016-10-27 18:29:28 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

If Diamonds Are Forever, Your Data Could Be, Too
让你的数据像钻石一样恒久远

If you wear a diamond on your finger, it likely has flaws, even if you can’t see them. Don’t blame your partners for your flawed engagement rings, thank them. You could be flaunting the future of data storage on your digits.

如果你手上戴了一颗钻石,那它很可能存在瑕疵,即便你用肉眼看不到。别因为订婚戒指有瑕疵而指责你的伴侣,而是要表示感谢。因为你或许可以向人炫耀,数据存储的未来就在你的手指上。

A paper published Wednesday in Science Advances shows how diamonds can be harnessed to store data for the long term. Right now, a tiny diamond — about half as long as a grain of rice and thinner than a sheet of paper — can hold a hundred times more information than a DVD. That’s not much within the context of the world’s growing data hoard. But in the future physicists could access a diamond with storage capacity a million times greater than that of a DVD, maybe more.

周三发表在《科学前沿》(Science Advances)上的一篇论文,展示了利用钻石长期存储数据的方法。现在,一丁点儿钻石——长度与半粒米相仿,厚度还赶不上一张纸——可以存储的信息量要比一张DVD多出百倍。相较于世界上日益增大的数据存储量,这不算什么。但在未来,物理学家可能会让一颗钻石具有比一张DVD大100万倍的信息存储容量,也许还会更多。

Groups all over the world are scrambling to find a place to cram all the data we’re generating taking selfies, swiping credit cards and doing just about everything we do today. They’ve proposed DNA, holograms, old-fashioned magnetic tape and other ideas. Diamonds aren’t new to the memory game, either. They’ve been proposed for quantum data storage, which is kind of like teleportation. But this isn’t that. It’s basic storage 101 — 010101 (and so on).

当我们自拍、刷信用卡,乃至在今时今日处理一切事情的时候,都会生成数据。全世界的许多组织都在争先恐后寻找一个可以把所有这些数据塞进去的地方。它们曾提议使用DNA、全息图、老式磁带以及其他一些载体。在数据存储领域,钻石也不是新鲜事物。一直有人提议用它们进行量子数据存储——有点像隐形传输。但这里说的跟那种不是一回事。它是基本存储101—010101(以此类推)。

It starts with a tiny, atomic-sized imperfection known as a nitrogen vacancy center in your otherwise perfect diamond. These flaws occur when a stray nitrogen atom — or a few of them — sneak in among its carbon structure. Deleting a carbon atom near the nitrogen leaves an empty space perfect for stashing data.

它首先需要你那看似完美无缺的钻石内存在原子大小的瑕疵,名为氮原子空缺中心。当一个或者几个游离的氮原子在钻石的碳结构中潜行的时候,这些瑕疵就会产生。剔除氮原子附近的一个碳原子,便会留下一个适合存储数据的完美空间。

The researchers, a team of physicists from City University of New York, used lasers to encode and read data on these tiny spaces, which they treated like magnets that could repel or absorb an electron. To encode simple grayscale images like a smiley face, Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger they added an electron by shining a green laser and took one away with a red laser. They read their data like a computer reads 0s and 1s, but instead of digits there was light, which indicated the presence or absence of electrons.

研究人员是来自纽约市立大学(City University of New York)的一组物理学家。他们用激光在这些微小的空间中对数据进行编码和读取,并把这些空间当成是可以排斥或者吸收电子的磁铁。为了对简单的灰度图像——比如笑脸,以及阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦(Albert Einstein)和埃尔温·薛定谔(Erwin Schrödinger)的形象——进行编码,他们通过发射绿色激光增加一个电子,并通过发射红色激光减少一个。读取数据时就像电脑读取0和1时一样,不过这里涉及的不是数字,而是光,它会显示电子存在或者不存在。

While both use light to read data, the concept is a little different from DVD storage, said Jacob Henshaw, a graduate student who worked on the study.

一名参与了这项研究的研究生雅各布·亨肖(Jacob Henshaw)说,虽然都是用光来读取数据,但这一概念与DVD存储有所不同。

“A DVD is like a 2-D puzzle, and this diamond technique is like a 3-D model,” he said. Unlike the DVD, which has only one surface, a diamond can store data in multiple layers, like a whole stack of DVDs.

“DVD就像2D拼图,这种钻石技术则像3D模型,”他说。与只有一个表面的DVD不同,钻石可以对数据进行多层存储,相当于一大摞DVD。

This storage would also work differently than a magnetic hard drive, because diamonds, as they say, are forever. Every time you access or rewrite your hard drive, the material it’s made of degrades, and after five or 10 years, it’s dead. But the defects in the diamonds don’t change, and if you do nothing, your data could last as long as your diamond.

这种存储方式与磁性硬盘驱动器的运行也不一样,因为正如人们所说,钻石恒久远。每当你访问或者重写硬盘的时候,构成硬盘的材料都会发生降解,五年或者十年之后它就报废了。但钻石内的瑕疵不会发生改变,如果你什么都不做,你的数据会像钻石一样恒久远。

“There is a no way you can change it. It will sit there forever,” said Siddharth Dhomkar, the lead author on the study.

“没有任何办法能改变它。它会永远待在那里,”论文的第一作者悉达多·多姆卡(Siddharth Dhomkar)说。

Veterans in the data storage industry, like Jon Toigo, are skeptical. He worries that the only people fluent in this data exchange might be men in lab coats, that there will be flaws in the data, and that cost will be high, even with imperfect diamonds. “It’s usually a 10-year interval before the tech is released for commercial use,” he said.

数据存储行业的一些资深人士,比如乔恩·托伊戈(Jon Toigo),对此抱有疑虑。他担心能熟练进行这种数据交换的或许只有实验室里的研究人员,以及数据会出现瑕疵,还担心成本过于高昂,尽管所用的钻石是有瑕疵的那种。“通常而言,这项技术再过十年才能实现商用,”他说。

The researchers say their industrial fabricated diamond, which cost about $150, was the cheapest thing in their experiment. Their concept works on any material with the same flaw and any flawed diamond — not just lab ones. “The bigger the diamond, the more defects, the more places to put information,” said Mr. Henshaw.

研究人员称,他们在实验中用到的最便宜的东西是以大约150美元(约合人民币1000元)购买的工业用合成钻石。他们的概念适用于任何具有同样瑕疵的材料以及任何一颗有瑕疵的钻石——不只是实验室里的那些。“钻石越大,瑕疵越多,存放信息的空间就越多,”亨肖说。

Whether or not your diamond engagement ring could one day also hold your wedding photos is something lab members have joked about. A ring on your finger has the same defects as a ring in the lab. But light exposure will scramble the diamond’s data: “You can put something on top of the diamond, but if you were to walk around in sunlight, you would erase your wedding photos, most likely,” he said.

实验室成员会拿有朝一日是否也能用你的钻石订婚戒指储存婚礼的照片来开玩笑。你手上的钻石和实验室的钻石有着同样的瑕疵。不过,光暴露会让钻石内的数据遭到破坏:“你可以在钻石上放点儿什么,但你如果走在阳光下,婚礼的照片极有可能被抹掉,”他说。

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