The office chair or the iPhone you’re touching right now is made of matter. So is the air around you, and the keyboard and mouse you’re using to view this blog. No one doubts that everyday items all around you are made up of building blocks called atoms.
But there’s still one type of “matter” that perplexes me, and I’m not even sure if it can be classified as “matter.” This blog is made out of data. Before we go on though, let’s make sure we have this concept clear. It’s the data we’re talking about; not the data storage device, be it a flash drive or a hard drive; nor the type of machine you’re using to view the data, be it a mobile phone or a monitor.
1s and 0s are all that make up this blog. Matter takes space, but data doesn’t. Matter has mass, but data does not. A hard drive with 1 terabyte of free space will not weigh less (or more) than the exact same hard drive with no free space remaining. Yet, the hard drive that is completely occupied with data weighs no more than an empty hard drive, and still can store thousands of photos, videos, and applications. A photo album with no photos in it will weigh less than a photo album with a thousand photos in it. Yet with a hard drive, more photos does not equal more weight.
So here’s the question- is data matter? Are we violating Newton’s first law of thermodynamics, saying that you can’t get something out of nothing? Are we getting something out of nothing? Is this a paradox? Does this spell doom for physics? science? the world? the universe??? existence as we know it?????!!!!!!
3 thoughts on “Everything’s made out of matter… right?”
I beg to differ. The 1s and 0s are matter because they are metal impressions on a hard drive. If you had a sensetive enough scale, the two hard drives would weigh differently. Also, twhat about the electricity flowing through the internet via ethernet and fiber optics? Those are electrons. I should pat myself on the back because I just saved the day…I think…
Most keyboards and mice don’t show web pages.
Data does not have mass because data is a term not an actual piece of matter. Data is the term used to describe electron patterns on a Hard drive disks platter. When you get new data onto the HDD there is no new entry of matter but instead electricity will change the flow of electrons.