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Aussies cram 2,000 movies onto single DVD

In what can only be seen as a "serving" (or pwning) of GE researchers, researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne have gone way past 100 and on to 2,000.

Last month, GE revealed that its research scientists had discovered a way, using holographic technology, to store 100 DVDs worth of information on a single standard DVD. What a difference a few weeks make.

In what can only be seen as a "serving" (or pwning) of the GE researchers, the B-Boys researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, have gone way past 100 and on to 2,000.

While standard DVDs are made with three spatial dimensions, the Aussie researchers added two more.

Using nanoparticles--extremely small bits of matter--the Swinburne team was able to introduce a spectral (or color) dimension and a polarization dimension.

To create the "color dimension," the researchers inserted gold nanorods onto a disc's surface. Because nanoparticles react to light according to their shape, this allowed the researchers to record information in a range of different color wavelengths on the same physical disc location. Their findings appear in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature.

Current DVDs are recorded in a single color wavelength using a laser. Brain explode yet? No? Well just keep reading, pal.

The polarization dimension is even more trippy and impressive. When the scientists Down Under projected light waves onto the disc, the direction of the electric field contained within them aligned with the gold nanorods. This allowed the researchers to record different layers of information at different angles.

According to James Chun of the university's Centre for Micro-Photonics, "the polarization can be rotated 360 degrees. So for example, we were able to record at zero-degree polarization. Then on top of that, we were able to record another layer of information at 90 degrees polarization, without them interfering with each other."

Not surprisingly, some issues, such as the speed at which the discs can be written on, have yet to be resolved. However, the researchers--who have already signed an agreement with Samsung--are confident the discs will be commercially available within 5 to 10 years.

Thinking about how this would be applied commercially makes my mind hurt. Lets says MGM decides to release all 22 "James Bond" films on one DVD. How much would they charge? $220-$440 ($10-20 for each disc) for the single disc?. How long would it take for consumers to get used to paying that much for a single disc, no matter how much content is on it?

On the Buzz Out Loud podcast Wednesday, we speculated that an entire TV series could be released on one disc. For example, all five seasons of "The Wire" on one disc. That would definitely be convenient during a marathon, but would Netflix be willing to rent you a $250 disc, with the possibility that you'd keep it "forever"?

Of course, the discs are likely to have applications beyond the living room. They could potentially stores large medical files such as MRIs, for example. The commercial potential for this technology is obvious; I'm just glad I don't have to come up with a business model.