Kelvin Ma for the Wall Street Journal
Harvard biologist George Church, in his office Wednesday, recently encoded a book he wrote into the genetic molecules of DNA.
In the latest effort to contend with exploding quantities of digital data, researchers encoded an entire book into the genetic molecules of DNA, the basic building block of life, and then accurately read back the text.
The experiment, reported Thursday in the journal Science, may point a way toward eventual data-storage devices with vastly more capacity for their size than today’s computer chips and drives.
“A device the size of your thumb could store as much information as the whole Internet,” said Harvard University molecular geneticist George Church, the project’s senior researcher.
In their work, the group translated the English text of a coming book on genomic engineering into actual DNA.
DNA contains genetic instructions written in a simple but powerful code made up of four chemicals called bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T).
The Harvard researchers started with the digital version of the book, which is composed of the ones and zeros that computers read. Next, on paper, they translated the zeros into either the A or C of the DNA base pairs, and changed the ones into either the G or T.
Then, using now-standard laboratory techniques, they created short strands of actual DNA that held the coded sequence—almost 55,000 strands in all. Each strand contained a portion of the text and an address that indicated where it occurred in the flow of the book.
In that form—a viscous liquid or solid salt—a billion copies of the book could fit easily into a test tube and, under normal conditions, last for centuries, the researchers said.
The technique likely is a long way from being commercially viable. But it highlights the potential of DNA as a stable, long-term archive for ordinary information, such as photographs, books, financial records, medical files and videos, all of which today are stored as computer code.
“It shows that the vast increase in capacity to synthesize and sequence DNA can be applied to store significant amounts of data,” said pioneering synthetic biologist Drew Endy at Stanford University, who wasn’t involved in the project. “If you wanted to have your library encoded in DNA, you could probably do that now.”
Molecular biologists have long known that DNA is a natural information-storage system inside every cell that encodes the recipe for individual heredity.
The exact order of the DNA bases—which for the average person is a sequence of about three billion—determines the meaning of the biological instructions stored in genes and chromosomes, just as letters of the alphabet make up words and sentences.
Some scientists have been experimenting with ways to use that code to store other kinds of information.
Still think I’m Nuts? remember this I uploaded a few months back?
ROSWELL : UFOS ALIEN TECHNOLOGY AND THE APOLLO DNA MEMORY PROJECT
Published on 12 Aug 2012 by MRufohunterorguk