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Information Inventory

March 7, 2011

Scientists have estimated the total amount of information transmitted and stored by humans.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Adding up the world’s info…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

This being the Information Age, University of Southern California communications scientist Martin Hilbert and his colleagues decided to measure how much information there is in the world.  Accounting for everything from supercomputers to dusty old books, they calculated that as of 2007, humans could store at least 295 exabytes of information.

MARTIN HILBERT (University of Southern California):

That’s a number with twenty zeros.  It’s a huge number.  If you would take all this information and put it in CD-ROMS, you could make a stack that goes from here to the Moon and a quarter of the distance beyond.

HIRSHON:

He notes that by 2007, 94 percent of that information was stored digitally, compared to only half in 2002. The amount of information broadcast or transmitted was nearly ten times larger.  And based on past statistics, these figures have probably already doubled.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.