Researchers Store Entire Book in DNA

#Future

Sat, Aug 18th, 2012 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Reportedly, scientists at the Harvard Medical School in Boston were able to devise a system permitting them to store "an entire genetics textbook in less than a picogram of DNA -- one trillionth of a gram -- an advance that could revolutionize our ability to save data."

A few teams have tried to write data into the genomes of living cells. But the approach has a couple of disadvantages. First, cells die -- not a good way to lose your term paper. They also replicate, introducing new mutations over time that can change the data.

To get around these problems, a team led by George Church, a synthetic biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, created a DNA information-archiving system that uses no cells at all. Instead, an inkjet printer embeds short fragments of chemically synthesized DNA onto the surface of a tiny glass chip. To encode a digital file, researchers divide it into tiny blocks of data and convert these data not into the 1s and 0s of typical digital storage media, but rather into DNA's four-letter alphabet of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts. Each DNA fragment also contains a digital "barcode" that records its location in the original file. Reading the data requires a DNA sequencer and a computer to reassemble all of the fragments in order and convert them back into digital format. The computer also corrects for errors; each block of data is replicated thousands of times so that any chance glitch can be identified and fixed by comparing it to the other copies.

  1691

 

You may also be interested in:

“We have an opportunity, to fundamentally redefine what urban life can actually be.”
The Beginning of the End for the Printed Book
"It's time to question the near-universal assumption that the ideal military recruit is young and male."
It Is Becoming Increasingly Difficult to Get Lost
It's Too Late to Worry That the Aliens Will Find Us