An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Scientists use man-made DNA speck to store digital data!

Scientists have now created a synthetic DNA and used it to store 154 Shakespeare sonnets, a photo, a PDF of a scientific paper, and a 26-second sound clip from US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr’s “I Have a Dream” speech on it. The speck of hardly even visible DNA

Scientists in Britain have announced a breakthrough in the quest to turn DNA into a revolutionary form of data storage that could fit the world’s entire three billion terabytes of stored data into the palm of your hand.

They said a speck of man-made DNA could hold mountains of data that could be freeze-dried, shipped and stored, potentially for thousands of years. The contents are “read” by sequencing the DNA – as is routinely done today, in genetic fingerprinting and so on – and turning it back into computer code.

“We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it,” said Nick Goldman of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, a co-author of the study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

The entire process is absolutely revolutionary and could completely change the way data is stored and passed on.  For millenia even.

“We downloaded the files from the web and used them to synthesise hundreds of thousands of pieces of DNA. The result looks like a tiny piece of dust,” said Emily Leproust of Agilent, a biotech company that took the digital data and used it to synthesise molecules of DNA in a laboratory in the United States.

Agilent then mailed the sample across the Atlantic to the EBI, where the researchers soaked it in water to reconstitute it and used standard sequencing machines to unravel the code. They recovered and read the files with 100 per cent accuracy. “It’s also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy,” Goldman added.

Given the already incredible amount of data that is stored in a human’s DNA, one even shudders to think what could happen if that DNA is further tweaked to load many additional Terabytes of data?

Without fully knowing the functioning of the body and how it actually thrives holistically, one wonders if it is the right way to do?  But it is mindboggling nevertheless!

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