Information overload: one gets 174 newspapers' data daily

Information overload: one gets 174 newspapers' data daily

Researchers at the University of South California worked out exactly how much information a person receives through television, radio, newspapers, posts and emails.

They found that a person inundated with nearly two quadrillion megabytes -- or two followed by 21 zeroes -- of information in a year.

That, according to the researchers, is the equivalent of every person in the world having to read 174 newspapers from cover to cover every single day, the Daily Mail reported.

The study also found that all libraries, computers, DVD collections and newspapers worldwide store a staggering 295 trillion megabytes of information -- or 295 followed by 18 zeroes.

If those 295 'exabytes' of stored information were kept on CD-Roms, the stack of CDs would reach from the Earth to beyond the Moon, the researchers said.

Dr Martin Hilbert, who led the study, admitted that the numbers involved are too large to comprehend -- but that they are dwarfed by nature.

The 295 trillion megabytes of information stored in the whole world is still less than one
per cent of the information stored in all the DNA in a single human being, he said.

"These numbers are impressive, but still minuscule compared to the order of magnitude at which nature handles information," Dr Hilbert said.

"Compared to nature, we are but humble apprentices. However, while the natural world is mind-boggling in its size, it remains fairly constant. In contrast, the world's technological information processing capacities are growing at exponential rates."

Dr Hilbert estimated the amount of information stored by mankind in bytes -- the unit of memory used by computers. A megabyte is a million bytes, while a gigabyte is a trillion bytes.

A top of the range iPod can store 160 gigabytes of data while a mid-priced desk top computers can store one terabyte - or trillion - bytes of data.

Dr Hilbert estimated how much information can be stored in books, newspapers, television shows, X-rays, LPs, photographs, VHS tapes and movies and converted it to bytes.

He also looked at digital storage in floppy disks, computer hard discs, memory cards, DVDs, CDs, digital cameras, mobile phones and portable music players.

He found that two-way communication technology - such as mobile phones and the Internet -- allowed people to share 65 trillion megabytes of data in 2007 -- the equivalent of every person in the world communicating the contents of six newspapers every day.

The new findings were appeared in the journal Science.

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