DNA Data: The World’s Information In 4 Grams

pentagon-dna-white-white-light


Scientists at Harvard have encoded an interactive HTML book into DNA, 70 billion copies of it, or about 44 petabytes of data. You could store all the words information as of 2011 in 4 grams of DNA. DNA isn’t a flash drive, but for long term storage of information that’s pretty amazing. Right now a lot of data just disappears cause you can’t afford to preserve all of it, but with this you could theoretically save everything, from security cameras to snapshots of the web to whatever. Plus DNA is a very hardy medium, so you don’t even need air-conditioned data centers and electricity.

The work, carried out by George Church and Sri Kosuri, basically treats DNA as just another digital storage device. Instead of binary data being encoded as magnetic regions on a hard drive platter, strands of DNA that store 96 bits are synthesized, with each of the bases (TGAC) representing a binary value (T and G = 1, A and C = 0).

To read the data stored in DNA, you simply sequence it — just as if you were sequencing the human genome — and convert each of the TGAC bases back into binary. To aid with sequencing, each strand of DNA has a 19-bit address block at the start (the red bits in the image below) — so a whole vat of DNA can be sequenced out of order, and then sorted into usable data using the addresses. (Extreme Tech)

Is this going to replace DropBox anytime soon? Probably not, but perhaps sooner than you think. Some of the ideas they talk about are recording everything that happens in the brain or everything that happens in a city or nation or even world. Not for frequent access, but the data would be there, in the space of a few milliliters. For humans to invent a comparably efficient data solution would take years, but hacking nature’s elegantly evolved solution seems palpably close.

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1 Comment »

IEatPeopleForLunch
2012-12-06 00:41:23

This kind of tech is still millions of years behind the tech used by the aliens hiding amongst us.

 
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