August 19, 2015

God's Memory Banks

From the UK Independent:

Single DNA molecule could store information for a
million years following scientific breakthrough

“A little after the discovery of the double helix architecture of DNA, people figured out that the coding language of nature is very similar to the binary language we use in computers,” Dr Grass said.

“On a hard drive, we use zeros and ones to represent data, and in DNA we have four nucleotides, A, C, T and G,” he said.

The DNA molecules were synthesised by machine and heated to 71C for a week, which is equivalent to being stored at 50C for 2,000 years, after which it was decoded back into the original text without any errors, Dr Grass told the meeting.

[...]DNA has the advantage over hard drives in that it is an extremely dense form of data storage with the potential to survive for long periods of time. An external hard drive for instance is about the size of a paperback book, can store about five terabytes of data and might last 50 years.

In contrast, an ounce (28 grams) of DNA could fit on a penny, store 300,000 terabytes of memory and palaeontologists have shown the information stored in DNA recovered from fossils can survive for up to a million years.

One of the remaining problems, other than the currently exorbitant cost of making DNA for digital storage, is to be able to retrieve the information quickly and easily, which is why Dr Grass is working on a method of labelling specific places on the DNA molecule to make it easier to search.

1 comment:

Doom said...

Thing is? That is only one part of the "memory" function of DNA. There is definitely a second form of data storage involved with it, at least one more level. If it was a song, one part would be vocals, this other part might be the harmony. There might be other forms of data storage systems in there. The thing is, just figuring out how to use the simple one is too complicated. Just fully understanding the second tier is too much, let alone figuring out how to encode on it, then combine that with the up-front coding...

Never worry. They will figure that out right about the time they learn to turn the sun off like a lightbulb. All talk, no walk, most of these folk.