The idea of using holograms to store data on computers has tantalized engineers since the 1960s, and now it finally looks like it’s going to market. Last month, InPhase Technologies, in Longmont, Colo., planned to release a holographic storage drive with 5.31-inch write-once, read-many disks that each hold 300 gigabytes. InPhase, a Bell Labs spin-off, says that by 2010, disks of that size will store 1.6 terabytes of data, while others as small as a credit card will hold at least 20 GB. Shortly thereafter, the company predicts, rewritable holographic media will allow the technology to compete with flash memory.

Today’s media record data in a single layer or, at most, two—giving CDs a 700-megabyte capacity, for instance. By contrast, InPhase’s holographic drive writes in layers all the way through its 1.5-millimeter-thick polymer disks. Instead of registering the data as pits on metal, the drive places them in optical checkerboard arrays that each contain just over a million light and dark pixels.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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