Geomagnetic Planetary Hard-Drive

February 28th, 2006 | researchmaterial

Geoff Manaugh is a mad genius:

… it occurred to me that if the U-Bahn system could somehow be hooked up to massive, earth-anchored magnets, and made, therefore, to produce a magnetic field of its own, that you could transform all of Berlin into a geomagnetic harddrive.

As a sail traps the wind, a planetary harddrive would use geomagnetism.

Provided constant motion on behalf of the trains, I thought, and given absolutely gigantic magnets of the right polarity and location, Berlin could start producing its own magnetic field – which meant that any city with a subway could be transformed into a harddrive. Harddrive London. Harddrive Beijing. Harddrive Moscow.

Of course, it’s obvious even to me that you’d have to do quite a lot more than just bury some magnets underground in order to transform a city into a harddrive – you’d need a shovel, for instance, and perhaps some strong anti-manic drugs; but my point is that if Christopher Wren could build a tower that simultaneously memorialized the Great Fire of London even as it acted as a scientific device, then perhaps you could turn urban infrastructure itself into a kind of working scientific apparatus.

You could turn all of Berlin into a geomagnetic harddrive….

(Thanks to Matt Jones)


12 Responses to “Geomagnetic Planetary Hard-Drive”

  1. Is it USB compatible?

  2. Mr. Ellis, I think it’s important that you warn the people of mutant fanged chickens. http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20060220/chicken_ani.html

  3. Yeah, but you’d never be able to use a credit card again in those cities.

    Of course, that might not be a bad idea anyway…

  4. There wouldn’t be a single music studio even close to it. It’s a kick-ass idea though!

  5. On the topic of tech this is a great story
    RIM: BlackBerry Out-of-Court Settlement Not an Option

  6. Now–

    If this were part of a story about Braal and Titan, then Waid’s current bitchy Legion might actually stop making me cry.

    It’s not.

    Oh please I need *a fiction* with this in. Please please.

  7. What kind of storage density could you get with this, I wonder? Could a city be made to store pornographic images of everyone who lived in it? Would Seattle, WA set itself up as an enormous communal iPod full of horrid hippie/emo crap?

  8. Will its contents be accesible through GPL license?

  9. Fantastic, what a great idea. Then the local version of ASLEF will call a stike….

    (Associated Society of Locomotive Steam Enginemen and Firemen)

  10. limit on the technology: you would have to reboot your city from backups after every solar storm.

  11. Great. Now the world’s hacker’s can own Madrid, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, London, New York and turn all the world’s major cities into a vast bot-net. The authorities may be forced to nuke a few of them that are being used to harbour vast collections of warez.

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