There I sat, enjoying a Sunday morning moment reading a compilation of news articles and sure enough, something interesting caught my eye: Dinosaurs? I always did think the Euoplocephalus was pretty cool, but what interested me in this particular National Geographic article was the stunning increase in the rate of dinosaur species discovered recently.
About 100 years ago, the rate of discovery was about one species per year. Roll forward to about the mid 70's, and due to modern commercial air travel available to the new influx of ever more paleontologists, armed with better tools, better research and shared experience, they were finding 6x more species per year.
In 2016 thirty six new species were described. This year, they've pushed 2 species a week at times. Imagine the richness of species per epoch- 100 millions years ago, 240 million years ago- there were lots of dinosaurs as plotted below!
Radiocarbon Dating to determine time periods
One of the main approaches to determining the time period of any discovery is Radiocarbon dating where the natural decay of a radioactive isotope is measured. Put simply, living creatures amass carbon as we live. Once we die, that same carbon slowly decays at a predictable and measurable rate. By measuring the amount of remaining carbon, one can calculate back to the approximate time of life. There are some caveats however, which bring me to my thoughts for this article, how well can we decode data of our planet's lifeforms and history?
The carbon used to radiocarbon date has a half life of 5,730 years beyond which accuracy drops to within several hundred years. After 50,000 years other techniques including isotope measurement in rock layers around the fossil are employed- read about that here.
But back to my premise: 5,730 years really isn't that long. This chart below shows recorded modern civilizations, which span back to ... 3,000 BC.
Hmm, that's 5,000 years ago. about the window of accurate radiocarbon dating. Seems to me, anything beyond that is like trying to reconstruct history from looking at computer tape backups from any given week or month.
Not a lot of richness in an odd, nearly random point in time where we're fortunate to stumble across a rich haul of data giving us a rare insight into some critical moment of history.
Datacenter Tech that allows you to go back in time
Good for us that in the datacenter, snapshot technology was invented, bringing us a much more timely account of what happened more recently. At least a few times a day, as though history waits to be written for when we're watching. But the inconvertible truth is time doesn't pause or stop- it is not contiguous, it is never ending.
A timeless record would include every single moment of time, with the richness of all details and all occurrences elapsing within.
Alas, we don't have that with our planet's' historical record, too bad for dinosaurs with a story to tell, but we can have that with our organization’s data - and that's what Reduxio does.
And that friends, is how one gets from dinosaurs to the latest innovations in data storage all on a Sunday morning read.