The Station Wagon Down the Freeway Problem

Growing up, one of the maxims my dad said to me was to never underestimate the transfer speed of a station wagon loaded with tape going down the freeway. Back then (the 1990s) it was a considerable transfer speed, but I wanted to see how quick it would be today.

Turns out people are still making and using tape, and tape got /good/. HP’s LTO tape offering gives us 1.6 TB of compressed storage in 432 mm3. Using Wolfram|Alpha, I also found out the storage capacity of a modern station wagon (the Chevrolet Bolt EV) is 0.4786 m3. Let’s say the freeway lets you hit 120 km/h and you travel 100 km. We now have a simple math problem.

Screenshot 2019-04-26 at 09.53.26.png

And the answer is…

4730 Tb/s.

Turns out today, you still can’t beat a station wagon loaded with tape.

(This is also a very similar approach to how they moved the data for the blackhole picture.)


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