On Exactitude in Science

From Wikipedia: “Del rigor en la ciencia” is a one-paragraph short story by Jorge Luis Borges, about the map/territory relation, written in the form of a literary forgery.

The story elaborates on a concept in Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno Concluded: a fictional map that had “the scale of a mile to the mile.” One of Carroll’s characters notes some practical difficulties with this map and states that “we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

Well, this story makes me think about what is starting to happen with remote sensing image data. With the increase in resolutions (spatial, spectral and temporal) the volume of data we have to store is increasing steadily.

Some colleagues at the lab were saying the other day that SMOS is generating something like 11 Tera bytes per year. And SMOS has a resolution of 40 km.! Just think about what it’s going to be to have to store Sentinel-2 data.

We may be coming to the situation where data centers (the buildings) start covering a good percentage of the images themselves!

Just kidding! Or maybe not …