The Astronomy of Data
Scientists at the University of California San Diego recently released a study (PDF) that estimates the amount of data the world’s business computers serve.
Their answer: 9,570,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.
That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me either so let’s do some round number math. We’re talking almost 9 trillion gigabytes, or, in geek speak, 8.1 zettabytes (there are 1,024 bytes in a kilobyte, 1,024 kilobytes in a megabyte, etc.)
The number’s still too abstract to visualize so let’s print out all that information as ones and zeros and bring in a little astronomy. The result: a 5.6 billion mile high stack of books that goes from Earth to Neptune and back again about 20 times.
And keep in mind this is just business data. It’s not the YouTubes and Facebooks and Flickrs of the world. It’s not the world’s newspapers and publications. And it’s not the terabytes of data collected daily by the world’s telescopes that photograph the universe.
Image Source: NASA.gov.