Ancestral Technology: Glass Crystal Memory
Over millennia, and before leaving Centaurea, the Ancestors developed many forms of memory devices, some capable of holding unimaginable amounts of data. As with the contemporary Last, they embraced digital, and then nano
technologies with alacrity. But there was one flaw; the data degraded over time. What could not be replicated anew, or was held on analogue media, could not be used to refresh the digital or nano media, which eventually became useless.
As they matured as a race, they came to realise that durable memory was often more important than capacity. They did not develop the gramophone, or vinyl records, but made progress in other, and much more advanced ways.The 'grail'
was that when the data was set, it could never degrade, and would remain forever. That was perhaps impossible to accomplish, but using sturdy media, they adapted, and increased the storage capacity of many options.
The breakthrough came when they discovered how to grow silicate crystals to defined parameters; a seemingly impossible thing to do. The faculty trying to create Singularity Crystals, discovered the means to grow glass crystals,
but the results were not suitable for use in their their project.
The Memory faculty had looked at glass, and different versions several times, but it broke easily, so development was always abandoned. The media was great for storage, but it was never durable enough. That was until a cleaner
(automaton) was working in the Singularity Crystal faculty, and a scientist hastened to fill his trash bucket, knocking a glass crystal ont the floor. The robot picked both the trash and the crystal up, and put them in the recycling
After work, the cleaning androids were relaxing together, when one arrived late, complaining about the mess of broken glass he had to clean up in the memory research faculty. Just as humans might, he was ribbed and joked about,
but then one of their number remembered something, made excuses, and left.
As Fate would have it, the robot was just in time to retrieve the glass Singularity Crystal that had been dropped. She took it, and dropped it. It remained intact. Her artificial intelligence was on a par with, if not better
than most of the human population, and she held the crystal up before her eyes and peered at it.
The rest of the story quickly became history; the robot took the glass crystal to the memory faculty, and dropped it on the floor. Slowly staff gathered, learning it was glass, possibility the form of glass they had been searching
for. It was.
Being crystalline in nature, the internal layout was logical, and could be written to without process of manufacture. This heralded the beginnings of the Ancestor's development, and later reliance upon, glass crystal storage
media. It can withstand temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees F, is unaffected by water and can last for thousands of years without losing any data. Information can be written, wiped, and rewritten into the molecular structure of
the glass crystal.
The process changes the way light travels through the glass, creating whirlpools of polarised light that can be read in much the same way as optical data. The recording process is accomplished by focusing a laser to imprint tiny
dots called "voxels" into the pure silica glass crystal. Processing turns the glass slightly opaque, and polarises light as it passes through. This can then be read using an optical detector.