How Heavy is my Data?

I was musing in my living room earlier, sitting back in my Ikea frötal chair (I don’t know if there is such a chair, I just made it up, although this is an Ikea chair), thinking about all the data I have online, at Dropbox and Onedrive and Google and Youtube and here on WordPress.com and I don’t remember where else and I suddenly thought to myself, ‘How heavy is it? I mean, if I piled it up on top of a set of scales, what would it weigh?’

I know, it’s data, and that data is digital and doesn’t weigh anything. But can something exist and not weigh anything? What if I double it? What if I keep doubling it? You know, like the story about the man who was asked what he wanted as a reward and said he would like one grain of rice to be placed on the first square of a chessboard (nearly typed cheeseboard then but that would be ridiculous!), and then to have it doubled on the second square and so on, doubling on each square until it came to the last, the sixty-fourth. He said he wanted the number of grains that were on that last square. It turned out there would be more grains of rice on the sixty-fourth square than there are atoms in the universe – I think, I haven’t actually counted how many atoms there are in the universe but I’m sure there are lots.

chessboard-theory

So if I double my data sixty four times what happens then? Would there be too much to fit in the observable universe? Or would it not make any difference, still weighing nothing?

Just a thought. Any answers much appreciated or I’ll probably spend days worrying about it.

And what if I compress it!!?

Take care

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