Life in a city made of computers


6 Responses to “Life in a city made of computers”

  1. show me says:

    “…then our city is producing 1018 bytes of data per second.” I am assuming this is supposed to be 10^18.

  2. Kiscica says:

    The numbers, at least in the first paragraph, are way, way, way, way, way, way, way off.  (In my opinion each order of magnitude deserves one “way” :-) 12.5 g of carbon contains 6*10^23 atoms, so 1 g of this notional “memory diamond” would store 5*10^22 bits.  That’s 6*10^21 bytes or 6 billion terabytes, i.e. 6 million petabytes, not 0.5 petabytes.

    • Beanolini says:

      His previous ‘memory diamond‘ used two atoms to represent each bit; 12C-13C is one state, 13C-12C is another. Still 3 million petabytes.

      I would have thought he could have spelt ‘Avogadro‘ correctly…

      • fajafejem says:

        A tendency to be sloppy with words (or names) may go hand-in-hand with a tendency to be sloppy with numbers.  Of course, neither one is a particularly good attribute to possess if you’re trying to make a living as a science fiction writer!  There’s something to be said for the old greats of hard SF (Heinlein, Clarke, etc.) — a lot of them were incredibly careful in both domains.

        As for the two-atom, half-capacity memory diamond, I guess that is the RAM version.  While one could theoretically represent a bit using a single atom of carbon with one or the other atomic weight, having to knock out (or in) a neutron to flip that bit puts a writable version of such a memory out of the realm of the merely highly implausible and into that of the virtually inconceivable.  If, on the other hand, we stipulate some sort of nanomachinery that can interact with individual atoms in a diamond crystal to “read them out” then it’s perhaps not so long a stretch to imagine transposing two of them.

        Still, either way the whole thing is so far from our current capabilities that I find it a bit amusing that he chose to describe the memory diamond in the context of storing the “combined video and audio streams from the entire population of Germany, over a period of a century”.  Surely it will be at least 50 years before a memory diamond is attainable technology.  50 years ago the country of Germany didn’t even exist… I don’t see any reason one way or the other to believe it will still exist 50 years hence, so memory diamond may never have a chance to record a century’s worth of its population’s sensory experiences :)

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