There’s an interesting article in today’s New York Times about Brewster Kahle’s archiving efforts. In addition to founding the Wayback Machine to catalog historical snapshots of the near-complete Internet, Kahle is also Noah’s Arking print books in forty-foot shipping containers.
The Internet Archive’s records for the Extrasolar Planet Encyclopedia (now at exoplanet.eu, but formerly at http://www.obspm.fr/encycl/encycl.html) stretch back to 22:58:15 October 9th, 1999, at the frenetic height of the Internet bubble.
It was a very different world back then. All of the salient details of the galactic planetary census could be jotted down on an index card:
Fast-forward to the Rightnow Machine. There are roughly 3,000 extrasolar planets known, and the Kepler Mission’s latest public candidates table contains various stellar, planetary, and orbital measurements related to 2,323 “objects of interest”. The uncompressed ASCII file containing the table is 454Kb, which, in a certain sense, is a fairly significant amount of data. It would take a week or two (~80 hours) of full-time effort to write that table out by hand. Certainly, it contains enough information to generate numerous exploratory diagrams that seek correlations — diagrams that seek to explain.
For example, as shown in the Batalha et al. paper, when ...