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Data vs Nuclear Holocaust

The Book of Eli, dir. A. Hughes, A. Hughes, (2010)

Similarly to The Planet of the Apes the world presented in The Book of Eli has been ravaged by a nuclear catastrophe. However, in 2044 earth is still inhabited by humans, although they are mostly members of cannibalistic gangs which are hunting each other. There are two data carriers present in the film that have saved elements of the fallen civilisation: a paper copy of the Bible and an iPod on which Denzel Washington listens to music. We have decided to check if data stored on an iPod could really survive a nuclear war and if other contemporary technologies could still be useful.

Data carriers

  • All contemporary data carriers.

Destroying forces

  • Electromagnetic pulse
  • Burning
  • The influence of external factors (predominantly dust and high temperature)

Would it be possible to retrieve the data?

Data saved on carriers that are currently popular can withstand the electromagnetic impulse, but the durability of the devices is limited – they get run down after a while, especially under heavy usage and when working in high temperatures. You could have your doubts whether the protagonist’s iPod could hold audio files for so long, even if it had survived the electromagnetic impulse, which would destroy electronic parts in this type of a device. Contemporary technologies ensure the survival of quite a lot of data – data saved in the cloud is in fact saved on servers scattered in different parts of the world and thanks to that there is a good chance that at least a part of it would survive a nuclear war. Apart from that, for a good couple of years now, there have been data carriers produced which are resistant to both time and external factors. A good example would be disks which look like CDs or DVDs but are made of extremely durable materials such as treated glass or materials whose structure resembles stone. The producers guarantee the durability of data from 1000 to even 1500 years and the carriers are resistant to temperatures from absolute zero to even 850 degrees Celsius. Treated glass is also resistant to the workings of chemical substances such as acids and strong radiation. They therefore have a good chance of becoming the Ark on which saved data could survive almost every scenario of the end of our civilisation.

See the destructive force of various types of nuclear weapons – test the simulator.

Trailer The Book of Eli (2010)

To be continued.

Data vs. Nuclear Holocaust, part 5/6

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