I have no idea why all these big name companies are suddenly deciding that the future of storage lies in optical media. First it was Panasonic's 100 gig Blu-rays, then GE's holographic discs, and now LG has announced a new long-term optical storage medium made out of rocks.
LG and start-up Millenniata are about to release a new type of optical storage disc that's made out of a "natural" and "stone-like" substance. You can drop these "M-Discs," as they're called, into liquid nitrogen or boiling water or both at the same time, and the disc won't care a jot. Supposedly, M-Discs are nigh-on indestructible, and unlike regular DVDs, they won't just randomly stop working after a few years due to breakdown of organic dyes. Millenniata actually suggests that the data on their discs will be readable "forever," or for at least 1,000 years. Whichever comes first, right?
Conventional CDs and DVDs store data when a transparent organic dye on the surface of the disc is burned with a laser, turning it opaque in spots to denote bits. This is fine, except that sometimes the dye goes bad, and your data get corrupted. M-Discs, on the other hand, use lasers to etch physical holes into the disc medium itself, so there's nothing to degrade. M-Discs can be read using any standard DVD drive, although it takes a special drive (not super special, but different) to be able to write to them. Write speed is abysmal at about five megabytes per second and the DVD only stores 4.7 gigs, but the appeal is really the foreveritude of the data fidelity.
As with most of these new optical storage technologies, M-Discs are designed primarily for "data archivists," whoever they are. Starting in October, you'll be able to find M-Drives at your local Fry's Electronics, and the discs themselves will be sold in packs of two or three for under $3 per disc.