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Thread: Weight of data

  1. #1
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    Weight of data

    Is there some weird scientific reason that a device with data in it weighs, say, a yoctogram more than the device without data in it?
    My gut says no, but I'm not sure.
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    Is there some weird scientific reason that a device with data in it weighs, say, a yoctogram more than the device without data in it?
    My gut says no, but I'm not sure.
    I don't think so, but you may find the Bekenstein bound to be an interesting concept. It is the upper limit on entropy or information in a finite region. You can pull weight (edit - mass really) out of the formula, which is about what you are thinking about.

    I have this funny boast that "I know everything, just not all at once. Last week, I knew the Sesame Street song. All week long..." The Bekenstein bound is probably the reason.
    Last edited by Solfe; 2018-Jun-09 at 01:07 PM.
    Solfe

  3. #3
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    Do the '1' bits weigh more than the '0' bits, or is it the other way around? I'd guess that there's no difference.

  4. #4
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    This is one of those questions that wanders endlessly around the internet, seeking resolution.
    It certainly depends on the device, since the data recorded on an optical device are in a different form that the data recorded on a flash drive or a hard drive, so you wouldn't expect the mass change to be the same. As an extreme example, if you chisel a message on a stone, you will reduce its weight; if you write the same message in ink, you'll increase its weight.
    For a hard drive there's potential energy associated with whether adjacent dipoles are aligned or anti-aligned, and an increase in that potential energy (by aligning adjacent dipoles) will increase the mass of the hard drive. So changing the data encoded on the drive will change the drive's weight. But whether that change is positive or negative will depend on the base state of the drive, the nature of the data encoding, and the nature of the data.

    Grant Hutchison
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