Weekend nuggets

Technically, it was Sunday so rather than working or reading some serious stuff, I have decided to take a long walk (to catch up with lot’s of new podcasts downloaded yesterday) and to surf the net just for fun. Here is some of the interesting discoveries:

There was a rumor on the net that some Indian student in Kerala discovered a way how to store over 450 GB of data on a sheet of paper. They say

instead of using zeroes and ones for computing, he used geometric shapes such as circles, squares and triangles for computing which combine with various colors and preserve the data in images

This discovery offers fantastic possibilities and could mean that CD’s, DVD’s and external hard disks will be soon obsolete. The only problem is that it is completely fake. Let’s ignore for a moment the above quote – which btw violates basic principles of digital information storage: using just two values 0 and 1. Everybody with some understanding of electronics can explain why using more than 2 values is bad idea and does not help …

The information capacity of the sheet of paper depends on it’s size and print density. Let’s do a ballpark estimate what this capacity can be: a sheet of paper of the size 8.5 x 11 inch has area of 93.5 square inch or roughly 100 square inch. If the technology used to put information on the paper is printing, with normal paper and normal printers we can assume realistic resolution about 1200 dpi (dots per inch) or 1200 bits per inch, which translates to about 1.5 megabits per square inch – or about 150 megabits per whole sheet. Which is less than 20 megabytes – a number several orders of magnitude smaller than claimed 450 GB.

All this was without any consideration for control information, division to some manageable units, correction codes etc and assuming than we would be able to exactly read all that was printed – with some sort of exact scanner that does not miss a bit.

In order to achieve capacity of 450 GB on sheet of paper, we would have to store 4.5 GB on square inch, which translates to density about 67 MB per inch or over 500 millions dpi. Which is seriously above capacity of any printer or scanner :-). If we would assume that we can indeed store more than just zeros or one in one pixel of information on paper, with the reasonable resolution of of 1200 dpi it would mean that we really have somehow represent over 400’000 values in single dot…

I really do not understand why the large newspaper do not either avoid publishing materials from area they have no clue about or at least do not put at least minimal review process in place. Many people came to the same conclusion as me – e.g. this blog – as well as one my favorite internet celebrities John C. Dvorak did not miss a chance to bust the scam.

But enough about the fakes. Let’s look at more real content: this google video puts very interesting sci-fi idea – going back in time – into software development and describes the debugger implementation that does exactly this.

I also visited few pages that have really nothing to do with computers or technology – and found out that the type of alcohol you drink does make a difference on the second day. That was not a good discovery, though because my favorite – red wine – ended up second worst. Ouch. If you ever wanted to create a human face from component, see this web page
(flash required). And finally, visit despair.com if you feel you need a fresh doze of (de)motivation :-).

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