The Akashic Records are a catalog of all events, thoughts and feelings that have happened on Earth. Supposedly its stored on the etheric plane.

I'd like to have this information existing in the the material universe of my World. My thought is that these Akashic records would be encoded into the DNA of bacteria.

At a rate of 1.8 bits per nucleotide, how much bacterial mass would be needed to house 4.5 billion years worth of the Akashic Records?

(Edit) The record should only pertain to the events that happen to living creatures that orginate on earth. Resolution would be at the organismal level, not inter or intra cellular. The cells that host the library would not record their own actions.

Assume that the data increases according to a pareto distribution comensurate with the complexity of life, and humans are the largest contributers.

Our current digital data is at 2.7 zetabytes in total and 2.5 exabytes generated daily. 50% of humanity is online, so a rough estimate says that a human population of 7.2 billion produces >5 exabytes of data.

With the Current level of bacteria and archaea at a total of 77 gigatons of carbon, would there be enough storage space for the Akashic Records?

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    $\begingroup$ What's the granularity/scope of an "event"? Is a heartbeat an event? Is an action potential fired from a neuron an event? What about a phosphate group binding to an enzyme? You might have a lot of events! $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Qami I was curious too. Apparently they also include all organisms thoughts, which makes me think it's at least atomic-scale. If we knew mechanistically how all of these arose it would allow for some level of data compression, but still... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ Not a full answer yet: S Cellulosum has the largest bacterial genome at 13Mbp and while I couldn't find precise numbers for this strain, bacterial cultures top out around 1e7 / mL. That's 1.8*1e7*1.3e7, or 2.34e14 bits/mL. Regardless, even at protein-level resolution, they encode less data than their existence requires $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ wow thanks so much for the comments, really helped me focus my thoughts on this, i hope the edits answer the general questions $\endgroup$
    – Eloc
    Commented Aug 24, 2019 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ Am voting to reopen, as this seems to be a pretty good worldbuilding query. I'm not sure why bacteria are involved, and I'm not sure why the entire history of the cosmos is involved --- the Akashic Record is a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions, and intent ever to have occurred in the past, present, or future. Pretty much find out the total number of humans & multiply by the data generation inconstant and Bob's your uncle. Seems pretty reasonable for a geopoet to wish to locate the Record in the physical world. I did! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 1:41

2 Answers 2


This is impossible to know for sure, but you can do some estimations

So we we are going to treat is like a Fermi problem, and do some broad estimations and hopefully end up in an order of magnitude of the correct answer. These numbers assume we are storing text. Audio or video will see this number spike dramatically (which is why we store so much now).

  • Each human needs 100 pages of text a day to describe all their actives to a detailed, yet reasonable level.
  • Each page has 2 Kilobytes of text (so 200 KB per day)
  • Each human lives for on average 10000 days
  • That's 2,000,000 KB or 2 GB per person
  • About 100,000,000,000 people have ever lived
  • That's 200,000,000,000 GB of data or 200 Exabytes

If you would like to add animals, we will assume that the last 200,000 years of humans is similar to the amount generated by all animals during previous years, leading to 4,500,000‬ Exabytes of data or 4,500 Zettabyes.

A gram of bacteria can hold at least 1 Exabyte of data, so you would need about 10,000 pounds of bacteria. All bacteria on the planet weighs far more than this. So yeah. You're good.

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    $\begingroup$ Even if you include animals and plants, or assume a person needs significantly more than 100 pages (not unreasonable, if you are going to describe every factor that the person weighted in making every decision they did) you still only add a few orders of magnitude to this estimate. Given that Earth is estimated to have something like 70 gigatons of bacteria, this is in fact perfectly doable. I wouldn't have believed it until I looked at the math. $\endgroup$
    – Ton Day
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 9:44

(first note; volume requirement is not very relevant since it depends on storage medium. Let's go with mass requirement)

earth_mass * number_of_snapshots

If your snapshot frequency is planck time (smallest observable distinct time interval) you will need the mass of the earth, multiplied by the instances of planck time that have passed since you started recording. At this scale, the earth's mass doesn't even matter since the planck scale outweights it so much, the result essentially rounds down to 10^51 kg, which, you are surprisingly lucky, is two orders of magnitude less than the mass of ordinary matter inside the observable universe! So, this is actually possible (albeit unfeasible...)

Nasu, you sly fox, you knew your math!

As you can see from the above, any compression that doesn't allow you to reduce the snapshot frequency won't have a meaningful effect. To make this more compact you have to reduce the frequency at which you are recording. If you concede that all meaningful "events" take a minimum of, for example, one nanosecond to execute, you can save quite a lot of mass.

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    $\begingroup$ I dunno. Some compression algorithms would shave vast quantities of data out of the picture. As you know their speed, energy and assorted vectors you could record all photon positions as wave information rather than discrete particle positions, for example, though you might get the odd decompression artefact like light appearing to ‘decide’ which path it takes... Wait... Wait a darn second... $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 17:53

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