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Preserving digital data for the future of eScience

From the August 30, 2008 issue of Science News

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12:53pm, August 18, 2008

Libraries and other archives of physical culture have been struggling for decades to preserve diverse media — from paper to eight-track tape recordings — for future generations. Scientists are falling behind the curve in protecting digital data, threatening the ability to mine new findings from existing data or validate research analyses. Johns Hopkins University cosmologist Alex Szalay and Jim Gray of Microsoft, who was lost at sea in 2007, spent much of the past decade discussing challenges posed by data files that will soon approach the petabyte (1015 — or quadrillion — byte) scale. Szalay commented on those challenges in Pittsburgh during an address at this summer’s Joint Conference on Digital Libraries and in a follow-up interview with senior editor Janet Raloff.

Scientific data approximately double every year, due to the availability of successive new ge

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