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How much Storage capacity could an Alien Device have?

  1. Apr 18, 2009 #1
    Lets assume an Alien race that's 1.2 billion years ahead of human civilization in terms of technology. Do you think they'd be able to store the entire internet in one of their single device? If not, then how much storage do you think they'd have? Discuss..
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2009 #2
    With the storage density of DNA, a 200 gram device ~ size of compact digital camera, can store about 1014 GB. That is A LOT more that the total amount of information on internet today.

    With the rate of advancements in biotech and computer science today.. such device should be possible to be built within 100 years. Any kid could probably build it in a school project within 200 years. And in 300 yeas such device would be in a museum alongside ancient artifacts.

    1.2 Billion years??? Meaningless to discuss technological advancements more than say a couple 100 yrs ahead.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  4. Apr 18, 2009 #3
    Thanks for answering.. I never thought of DNA as a storage medium, but it's quite possible. Another question: Do you think in 300 years, all the information on the internet would be TOO much to contain, even for an advanced Alien civilization 1.2 billion years ahead of us? I mean look at the exponential growth of data already straining the world's servers. I personally don't think an Alien race can keep up with us.
    link here: http://www.emc.com/digital_universe [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Apr 18, 2009 #4
    Humans, or for that matter Aliens have to communicate somehow. The internet has provided this, and even though it is being strained, I'm pretty sure some form of it will always be around. Look at how far computers have gone in the last 50 years. Or, for that matter, the last 10...from windows 1998 to Vista.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Apr 18, 2009 #5


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    Technology 1.2 billion years more advanced than our own? I think you should be looking more at the holographic principle at that point... fitting the Year 2310 Internet into a square nanometer seems physically possible, given a doubling every 3 years and a present size of 20 exabytes.
  7. Apr 18, 2009 #6
    Interesting questions! But as another poster remarked, that's much too long a time to say anything intelligent about. After all, it's a non-trivial fraction of the age of the universe! It's hard to imagine that a race could survive for even a percentage of that.

    I'm reminded of the cult favorite This Island Earth from the 1950s, where the aliens showed off their superior technology by demonstrating that their condensers (that's capacitors for you young'uns) could withstand a lot more voltage than their Earth-made analogues.

    This is funny because, although such a figure of merit might have seemed the direction technology would take in the 50's, we now know that how many of them you can fit on a head of a pin is far more important.

    I think what I'm suggesting is that storage capacity as we understand it might be a totally uninteresting figure of merit by which to judge alien technology. Perhaps the software they use to drink from such a firehose would be far more impressive
  8. Apr 18, 2009 #7


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    Not sure I agree: how many atoms are in a square nanometer? How would one store multiple bits of data on a single atom?
  9. Apr 18, 2009 #8
    The total amount of information on the internet, or in any conceivable classical computer memory e.g. < 10^80 bits, is smaller than the amount of computer memory that would be required to fully simulate the wave function of a modestly large nucleus e.g. gold.

    I'm not trying to emphasize anything awesome or 'deep' about quantum mechanics, I am just using the example of an important real life science problem for which the amount of computer memory will never be enough (approximations must be used instead).
  10. Apr 18, 2009 #9


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    Do you think that any answer I could give would stand the test of a billion years? I can't predict half the technological advances in the next hundred; a thousand years from now everything will be alien to me. This is over a billion years.

    Quantum positions of an atom? Information in rolled-up dimensions? Closed timelike curves? These all seems like technologies that could be fully exploited or refuted in the next ten thousand years. A billion years from now? Perish the thought I should predict!
  11. Apr 18, 2009 #10
    Well I just asked a simple yes or no question and got a bunch of smart alecs telling me what kind of questions to ask! It's all good though! ;))

    Somehow, I still don't think we'd have flying cars in a billion years ;) I think in a billion years, instead of transistors - you can probably use super strings to store information, imagine that! If an atom was the size of the solar system then a string would be the size of a tree..
  12. Apr 24, 2009 #11


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    They'll be able to store however many pictograms they can fit onto a clay slab (made using the precious few drops of water rendered from condemned criminals and baked in the reddish light of their bloated and dying sun). After establishing a civilization spanning the galaxy, with sentient computers the size of moons, they grew complacent, and forgot to backup. A hypernova then wiped out most of their civilization, along with all of their technological, and cultural know-how.

    A few isolated outposts survived, along with their original homeworld at the edge of the galaxy. The few survivors in this far corner quickly turned to barbarism, and within a few short millenia, the heights and glory of their star-spanning civilization were forgotten and relegated to myth.

    Having long ago strip-mined their star system, these few will never again ascend to their halcyon days, and await the inevitable, as their star dims and fades into the night.

    But seriously, how can you predict the course of a billion years of existence? Of even our own, let alone that of an alien civilization?
  13. Dec 17, 2009 #12
    We will be abel to store data in solid matterials but no wood. steel cupper carbon
  14. Dec 17, 2009 #13
    We will be abel to store data inside sub atomic particles.

    we will be abel to store data in the form of subatomic particles billions of terrabytes inside on single atom extracting this data will be in the form of an electro magnatic accellerators

    a special devices that scans atoms in locations where data is stored and extract it by taming electromagnatic nano tunnels. such an example might be the walls in anciant egypt inside pyramids they might contain vast amounts of information stored inside it's atomic structers
    so storing data inside atoms needs plane surface a block of matterial " a wall" a piece of steel cupper etc etc" storing data needs sactorizing a piece of matterial and creating a map for it so that the scanning device can locate these sectors in which the data is stored in it.

    imagine ur self hiding a data file inside an mp3 file " it is present now days"
    same goes for atomic storage imagine ur self storing data inside a small rock

    the rock will act as a storage device the atoms will be the plates the sub atomes will be the clusters.
  15. Dec 17, 2009 #14
    Why 1.2 billion years though?
  16. Dec 17, 2009 #15
    maybe within 300 years from now
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