Found over at ***Dave’s place- why you shouldn’t thump your computer to fix it.

Hard drives, by analogy

 We are so blasé about hard drives and how they work. But the precision involved is astonishing:


The dimensions of the head are impressive. With a width of less than a hundred nanometers and a thickness of about ten, it flies above the platter at a speed of up to 15,000 RPM, at a height that’s the equivalent of 40 atoms. If you start multiplying these infinitesimally small numbers, you begin to get an idea of their significance.
 Or, to give an amazing analogy:


Consider this little comparison: if the read/write head were a Boeing 747, and the hard-disk platter were the surface of the Earth:

  • The head would fly at Mach 800
  • At less than one centimeter from the ground
  • And count every blade of grass
  • Making fewer than 10 unrecoverable counting errors in an area equivalent to all of Ireland.


(via kottke)

Wow indeed- do you really want to jog something floating at 40 atoms height?