June 30th, 2009

Tall ships (porthole)

(no subject)

Raymond Chen (of The Old New Thing blog) recently linked to a post asking, "How much does a gigabyte weigh?" The original poster had gotten confused (or is an excellent troll) and thought that as he installed stuff on his laptop it actually got heavier. Obviously that's not the case.

But it got me wondering. Does reading from or writing to something actually change the mass of it? See, if you apply a charge to something you do actually change the mass of it by a really tiny amount, as you're adding or removing electrons from the object. This probably means that flash memory will actually get heavier as you write to it, since it stores binary ones by trapping a charge on the chip.

I'm not sure if the same principle applies to hard disks (since they operate by storing a magnetic field rather than a charge), but nonetheless it's an interesting thought