You can cram several megabytes into a hydrogen atom

John K Clark (
Mon, 11 Nov 1996 13:45:48 -0800 (PST)


On Sun, 10 Nov 1996,

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> *you can cram several megabytes into a hydrogen atom* (!!!)

>Lyle Burkhead wrote:
> How?

The electron in a Hydrogen atom can be in 2 states, "spin up" or "spin down",
and you can differentiate between the two by using The Zeeman Effect. Also,
an atom doesn't have to stay in its ground state. If R is the radius of the
orbital of the electron in its ground state, you could also, with a very
specific amount of energy, place it in a lager orbital of radius n^2 R where
n is any integer. When the electron falls into a lower orbital, either
spontaneously or through stimulus emission as in a LASER, it will emit a
photon of light. You can tell from the amount of energy in that photon what
orbital the electron must have been in. After you have read the memory in
this way you'd need to fire a photon back at the atom to push the electron
back to it's original orbital, but there is nothing new in dynamic memory.
You wouldn't be limited to the electron either, you could do many of the same
sort of things with the nucleus, but you'd have to deal with Gamma rays.
And I haven't even mentioned the weird stuff the Quantum Computer people
talk about.

Drexler, the conservative engineer that he is, apparently doesn't think any
of this will be important until after the Singularity, certainly his plain
Jane Nanotechnology doesn't make use of any of these exotic possibilities.
That's why Nanotechnology is a technology not a science.

John K Clark

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