Media & Publishing Science & Physics Software & Hardware Technology

Tech’ news in brief: paper storage not worth, err .. the paper it’s written on?

Despite the sudden rush of interest in the paper-based high-density storage media technology proposed by Sainul Abideen, those with more numerically-oriented brains than this author seem to have poured water on the flames that were only so recently fanned by the expectation that such a technology could actually be real:

“Despite technological advances in scanning and printing technology since those days, Abideen’s claims quite simply do not hold water. A little bit of math is in order here. Starting with a scanner with a maximum resolution of 1,200 dots per inch, this leads to a maximum of 1,440,000 dots per square inch, or just over 134 million dots on a sheet of standard 8.5″ by 11″ paper (excluding margins).

Getting a scanner to accurately pick up the color of a single dot on a page is a difficult affair (it would take near-perfect color calibration, for example, and be prone to errors from ambient light and imperfections in the paper) but let’s be generous and say that the scanner can accurately pick out 256 shades of color for each dot. That’s a single byte per dot, making the final calculation easy: a maximum theoretical storage of 134MB, which would likely go down to under 100MB after error correction.”

And the author of this article, a certain Jeremy Reimer of Ars Technica is a man clearly after my own heart. So I’ll let him close this post with a wonderful end line:

“In the end, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but it cannot be worth half a thousand megabytes.”

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.