Researchers do an awful lot of work and it’s thanks to them that we have most of the major advancements in technology, medicine and many other aspects of our daily lives. But I must congratulate the researchers at physorg.com who went and took on one of the biggest challenges. To calculate just how much information there is in the world!
Why don’t you go and take a wild/educated guess first yourself as to how much you think there is? A couple of million gigabytes? Billion or two? Well according to these guys there’s an incredible 295 Exabytes of data out there. That’s 316 753 838 080 gigabytes! They got that figure by looking at both digital memory and analog devices.
Still trying to wrap your head around that figure? Well I’ve got a few more for you. To put that immense number into perspective, the researchers contrasted it with things we can relate to.
Put another way, if a single star is a bit of information, that’s a whole galaxy of information for every person in the world. Which is 315 times the number of grains of sand in the world. Think that’s alot? Well it’s still less than one percent of the information that is stored in all the DNA molecules of a human being.
The researchers took 2002 as the beginning of the digital age since it was the first year worldwide digital storage capacity overtook total analog capacity. As of 2007, almost 94 percent of our memory is in digital form.
In 2007 alone, humankind managed to successfully send 1.9 zettabytes of information through broadcast technology like televisions, satellites and GPS. That’s equivalent to every person in the world reading 174 newspapers every day.
On two-way communications technology, such as cell phones, humankind shared 65 exabytes of information through telecommunications in 2007, that’s the equivalent of every person in the world sharing the contents of six newspapers with each other every day.
In 2007, all the general-purpose computers in the world computed 6.4 x 10^18 instructions per second, that’s roughly the same number of nerve impulses executed by a single human brain. Doing these instructions by hand would take 2,200 times the period since the Big Bang.
From 1986 to 2007, the period of time examined in the study, worldwide computing capacity grew 58 percent a year, ten times faster than the United States’ GDP.
I think you will agree that these numbers are pretty phenomenal but they are nothing compared with the amount of information that is present in nature. As you can see from some of the above stats, humans still far over achieve the computing abilities of technology. However the level of information in technology is constantly growing, while it’s remained fairly constant in nature.