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Creating the Ultimate Small Storage Particle

by | Apr 21, 2009 | Business Trends

Thomas Frey Futurist Speaker creating the ultimate small storage particle

Creating the Ultimate Small Storage Particle

When will we reach an endpoint? The answer (after the jump) will surprise you

“When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.” – Niels Bohr, recipient of the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physics

I’ve had this ongoing notion that researchers will soon reach the point of creating the ultimate small storage particle. In discussing this with some nanotech friends, they felt we may reach an endpoint when we get to the size of the electron. So I decided to run with that assumption and calculate out how long it would take, based on Moore’s Law, to reach a point where we are storing information on electrons.

Moore’s Law has been talked about so much in recent years that some people think it was actually a law enacted by Congress and signed by the President.

Moore’s Law is the empirical observation made in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore.  He concluded that “the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double every 24 months.” Although it is often quoted as doubling every 18 months, Intel’s official Moore’s Law page, as well as an interview with Gordon Moore himself, confirms his original thinking that it is every two years.

Expanding on this thinking, a similar law (sometimes called Kryder’s Law) has proven true for the ongoing concentration of hard disk storage cost per unit of information. The current rate of increase in hard drive capacity is increasing at roughly the same exponential rate as the increase in transistor count. However, recent trends show that this rate is dropping and has not been met for the last four years. 

Another version states that RAM storage capacity increases at the same rate as processing power. 

In writing this article, I asked retired University of Colorado Professor, Mark Dubin, if he could do the Moore’s Law math to determine how long it will be before we are storing information on individual electrons.  Here is how he calculated it:

Thomas Frey Futurist Speaker Extending Moore’s Law into the future, we will reach the size of the hydrogen atom in 2058 and the size of an electron in 2133

Extending Moore’s Law into the future, we will reach the size of the hydrogen atom in 2058 and the size of an electron in 2133

The commonly accepted value for Moore’s Law, that he states, is about 2 years. So a hydrogen atom radius would be reached in about 50 years, (26 iterations) from today. The electron radius would be reached in 124 years (62) iterations) from today.

The size of a quantum dot might be more relevant. Currently the smallest lithography quantum dot is about 1-2 nanometers (.0001-.0002 microns) in diameter, which on the graph is about 2050 (43 years and 22 iterations from now). I bring this up because I think that quantum computing using quantum dots will be needed at that small scale.

Given that very crude quantum computing was just recently achieved for 4-or-so bits, 2050 may be a realistic estimate of when useful quantum computing might be generally available. The reason I think quantum dots are more relevant than the electron itself, is that quantum computing relies on the energy levels of electrons that are normally part of some atom. Of course, free electron gases have been achieved in 2-dimensional bounded surfaces at low temperatures, so eventually the electron could be the ultimate limit (but then again there are other sub-atomic particles). However, that takes us past lithography, which is what Moore’s law is based on.”

I have no delusions about Moore’s Law holding true for the next 124 years. But this project has a very nice way of putting nanotechnology, and all of it’s degrees of smallness into perspective.

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Creating the Ultimate Small Storage Particle

by | Apr 21, 2009 | Business Trends

I was thoroughly intrigued when I found out the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado was offering a degree in asteroid mining.

Yes, the idea of extracting water, oxygen, minerals, and metals from an asteroid sounds like science fiction to most people, but it’s not that far away.  In fact, Colorado School of Mines’ newly launched “Space Resources” program will help people get in on the ground floor.

After thinking about the proactive nature of this approach, it became abundantly clear how backward thinking most colleges have become.

When colleges decide on a new degree program, they must first recruit instructors, create a new curriculum, and attract students. As a result, the talent churned out of these newly minted programs is the product of a 6-7 year pipeline.

For this reason, anticipatory-thinking institutions really need to be setting their sights on what business and industries will need 7-10 years from now.

The Risk-Averse Nature of Education

When Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen released his best-selling book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, his core message that disruptive change is the path to success, was only partially embraced by higher education.

While many were experimenting with MOOCs and smart whiteboards, changes in the subject matter of their courses still evolved at the traditional pace of discovery.

This is not to say colleges are not innovative. Rather, the demands of today’s emerging tech environment are forcing business and industries to shift into an entirely new gear. And that most definitely includes our academic institutions.

From a management perspective, it’s far easier to oversee a contained system where all variables are constrained. But during times of change, we tend to give far more power to the “unleashers,” who are determined to test the status quo and release ideas and trial balloons to see what works.

For this reason, managers and creatives often find themselves on opposing sides, and the winners of these warring factions often determine what we as consumers see as the resulting ripples of change.

Offering Pilot Programs

When Facebook bought Oculus Rift in March 2014 for $2 billion, the job boards went crazy, as there was an instant uptick in the demand for VR designers, engineers, and experience creators. But no one was teaching VR, and certainly not the Oculus Rift version of it.

Colleges have a long history of being blindsided by new technologies:

  • When eBay launched, no one was teaching ecommerce strategies
  • When Myspace launched, no one was teaching social networking
  • When Google launched, no one was teaching online search engine strategies
  • When Uber launched, no one was teaching sharing economy business models
  • When Apple first opened their App Store, no one was teaching smart phone app design
  • When Amazon first allowed online storefronts, no one was teaching the Amazon business model
  • When YouTube first offered ways to monetize videos, no one was teaching it

Since most academic institutions are only willing to put their name on programs with long-term viability, the endorsement of half-baked agendas does not come easy. However, that is exactly what needs to be done.

Colleges can no longer afford to remain comfortably behind the curve.

52 Future College Degrees

As a way of priming your thinking on this matter, here are 52 future degrees that forward-thinking colleges could start offering today:

  1. Space Exploration – space tourism planning and management
  2. Space Exploration – planetary colony design and operation
  3.  Space Exploration – next generation space infrastructure
  4. Space Exploration – advanced cosmology and non-earth human habitats
  5. Bioengineering with CRISPR – policy and procedural strategies
  6. Bioengineering with CRISPR – advanced genetic engineering systems
  7. Bioengineering with CRISPR – operational implementations and system engineering
  8. Bioengineering with CRISPR – ethical regulation and oversight
  9. Smart City – autonomous traffic integration
  10. Smart City – mixed reality modeling
  11. Smart City – autonomous construction integration
  12. Smart City – next generation municipal planning and strategy
  13. Autonomous Agriculture – robotic systems
  14. Autonomous Agriculture – drone systems
  15. Autonomous Agriculture – supply chain management
  16. Autonomous Agriculture – systems theory and integration
  17. Swarmbot – design, theory, and management
  18. Swarmbot – system engineering and oversight
  19. Swarmbot – municipal system design
  20. Swarmbot – law enforcement and advanced criminology systems
  21. Cryptocurrency – digital coin economics
  22. Cryptocurrency – crypto-banking system design
  23. Cryptocurrency – regulatory systems and oversight
  24. Cryptocurrency – forensic accounting strategies
  25. Blockchain – design, systems, and applications
  26. Blockchain – blockchain for biological systems
  27. Blockchain – large-scale integration structures
  28. Blockchain – municipal system design strategies
  29. Global Systems – system planning, architecture, and design
  30. Global Systems – large-scale integration strategies
  31. Global Systems – operational systems checks and balance
  32. Global Systems – governmental systems in a borderless digital world
  33. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - drone film making
  34. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – command center operations
  35. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – municipal modeling and planning systems
  36. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – emergency response systems
  37. Mixed Reality - experiential retail
  38. Mixed Reality – three-dimensional storytelling
  39. Mixed Reality – game design
  40. Mixed Reality – therapeutic systems and design
  41. Advanced Reproductive Systems – designer baby strategies, planning, and ethics
  42. Advanced Reproductive Systems – surrogate parenting policy and approaches
  43. Advanced Reproductive Systems – organic nano structures
  44. Advanced Reproductive Systems – clone engineering and advanced processes
  45. Artificial Intelligence – data management in an AI environment
  46. Artificial Intelligence – advanced human-AI integration
  47. Artificial Intelligence – streaming AI data services
  48. Artificial Intelligence – advanced marketing with AI
  49. Quantum Computing – data strategies in a quantum-connected world
  50. Quantum Computing – quantum-level encryption and security
  51. Quantum Computing – quantum computing implementation strategies
  52. Quantum Computing – AI-quantum system integration

Final Thought

More so than any time in history, we have a clear view of next generation technologies. Naturally, we’re still a long way from 100% clarity, but for most of the technologies listed above, the shifting tectonic plates of change can be felt around the world.

Without taking decisive action, colleges run the risk of being circumvented by new types of training systems that can meet market demands in a fraction of the time it takes traditional academia to react.

The ideas I’ve listed are a tiny fraction of what’s possible when it comes to emerging tech degrees. Should colleges stick their neck out like Colorado School of Mines and offer degrees that may not be immediately useful? Adding to that question, how many college degrees are immediately useful today?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

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