It all started very innocently with a review at ZDNet of OpenSolaris, called OpenSolaris: What Ubuntu wants to be when it grows up. As the article extolled the virtues of ZFS, I follow the link to Wikipedia’s page on ZFS. I found this section:
Project leader [Jeff] Bonwick said, “Populating 128-bit file systems would exceed the quantum limits of earth-based storage. You couldn’t fill a 128-bit storage pool without boiling the oceans.” Later he clarified:
Although we’d all like Moore’s Law to continue forever, quantum mechanics imposes some fundamental limits on the computation rate and information capacity of any physical device. In particular, it has been shown that 1 kilogram of matter confined to 1 litre of space can perform at most 1051 operations per second on at most 1031 bits of information. A fully populated 128-bit storage pool would contain 2128 blocks = 2137 bytes = 2140 bits; therefore the minimum mass required to hold the bits would be (2140 bits) / (1031 bits/kg) = 136 billion kg. To operate at the 1031 bits/kg limit, however, the entire mass of the computer must be in the form of pure energy. By E=mc², the rest energy of 136 billion kg is 1.2×1028 J. The mass of the oceans is about 1.4×1021 kg. It takes about 4,000 J to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 degree Celsius, and thus about 400,000 J to heat 1 kg of water from freezing to boiling. The latent heat of vaporization adds another 2 million J/kg. Thus the energy required to boil the oceans is about 2.4×106 J/kg * 1.4×1021 kg = 3.4×1027 J. Thus, fully populating a 128-bit storage pool would, literally, require more energy than boiling the oceans.
This kind of this just shouts “There are too many people on the planet with waaaaay too much free time”. Why is this man not spending his time writing wonderful software, organizing a food drive for the starving kids in Europe, or helping the writers of Lost wrap up some of their loose ends?