We know that it shouldn't come as a shock anymore when researchers announce new storage technologies that promise to hold tantalizingly large amounts of data, but we were still pretty stoked to learn that a recent breakthrough at Harvard Medical School may eventually lead to DVD-size discs whose capacities approach an eye-popping 50TB. Unlike traditional optical or magnetic solutions, the disc developed by Professor V Renugopalakrishnan and his colleagues is coated with thousands of light-activated proteins called bacteriorhodopsin which are found in the membrane of a particular salt marsh microbe -- and which temporarily convert to a series of intermediate molecules when exposed to sunlight. That property allows the proteins to act as individual bits in a binary system, but since they have a tendency to return to their grounded state after mere hours or days, Renugopalakrishnan and his team modified the requisite microbes' DNA to produce proteins capable of maintaining that intermediary state for several years. Unfortunately we won't see this technology come to market anytime soon, and even when it does, 50TB capacities will still be a ways off, so it looks like we'll have to settle for those disappointing 200GB Blu-ray discs
for the foreseeable future.