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Thomas

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[Tuesday 30th June 2009 at 10:15 pm]
Thomas

boggyb
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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
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: rustica
Tuesday 30th June 2009 at 9:36 pm (UTC)
There was a question about this over on physics some time ago, if I recall correctly. But I can't remember what they concluded....
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[User Picture]From: olego
Tuesday 30th June 2009 at 9:48 pm (UTC)
Well, Boyd Bushman says that magnetic fields cancel out gravity... So it could be true!

I didn't know that flash memory traps electrons! That's cool. :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: boggyb
Tuesday 30th June 2009 at 10:00 pm (UTC)
At least one variant stores a charge on a floating gate, and the only way I can think of is to trap some electrons on it. If you assume that when idle the rest of the chip is kept at a constant potential, then the number of electrons in the chip must have increased.

This does assume that I've got my head round it right :)
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