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It sounds crazy, doesn't it. But a proof-of-concept experiment has just been carried out successfully. In theory, the thing is simple. There are four DNA bases so each can represent ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    Store your data in DNA


    It sounds crazy, doesn't it. But a proof-of-concept experiment has just been carried out successfully.

    In theory, the thing is simple. There are four DNA bases so each can represent a 2-bit string: 00, 01, 10 and 11. Four of these linked together can store one byte. The obvious problem is synthesising the correct sequence and reading it back. I assume that both these processes are very slow, so it would only be suitable for archival storage that wouldn't be accessed very often. But it has huge advantages as an archival medium: it takes up very little space and is virtually indestructible.

    Anyway, what these people did was to translate an mp3 file of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech into a DNA sequence, which they sent to a synthesising company. When the DNA was returned, they sequenced it, decoded it back into binary, and played it.

    Imagine something like Amazon with all the world's literature stored in phials of DNA on a couple of shelves!
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  2. #2
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Yeah. I've been reading about this for a bit now Hazel - interesting stuff. Basically, all of the literature, videos, and music ever created could be stored in a teacup, and last for 10,000 years!
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  3. #3
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    Sounds very cool, but don't let the RIAA at it, or they'll force you to use DRM and lossy compression algorithms, then fill it full of advertising and demand your credit card number. I'd like to say I'm joking, but I can see issues like that cropping up.

    I could see an international committee that, every year, decides what information gets sequenced for the eternal archives. If you want your data archived, you have to waive all copyright claims until the end of time.

    Where would you store the stuff? Multiple locations across the world, I would think. Who gets to be in charge of it?

    Questions, questions...

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    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
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    News Flash: The knowledge of the world was lost today when a caffine deprived admin took the wrong mug.

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  5. #5
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elija View Post
    News Flash: The knowledge of the world was lost today when a caffine deprived admin took the wrong mug.

    :LOL: And I could easily be that admin!
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  6. #6
    Linux User zenwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazel View Post
    It sounds crazy, doesn't it. But a proof-of-concept experiment has just been carried out successfully.

    In theory, the thing is simple. There are four DNA bases so each can represent a 2-bit string: 00, 01, 10 and 11. Four of these linked together can store one byte. The obvious problem is synthesising the correct sequence and reading it back. I assume that both these processes are very slow, so it would only be suitable for archival storage that wouldn't be accessed very often. But it has huge advantages as an archival medium: it takes up very little space and is virtually indestructible.

    . . .

    Imagine something like Amazon with all the world's literature stored in phials of DNA on a couple of shelves!
    . . . (bold mine) or the physical make-up of every human that ever existed . . . such a storage mechanism -- and we're just now discovering it!
    And Homo sapiens think we're so intelligent! LOL
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    It's a brilliantly amusing experiment, of course, but I don't know where people get the notion that DNA is "virtually indestructible". I've worked with DNA and it's dead easy to destroy, any number of chemicals or enzymes will destroy it, high heat, or just stick it under a UV lamp for a few minutes. If DNA was durable there'd be Jurassic Parks all over the place, and we wouldn't have to construct models of Neanderthals - we'd be cloning them.

    If my flash drive was in one pocket and a DNA archive was in another when you buried me the drive would probably last longer (of course having had vastly less information to start with.) I think the oldest forensic DNA identification of a corpse was dead under a century. DNA degrades over time (as does the data on the drive) and unless very carefully preserved reading an old DNA book would be like reading a 'complete works of Shakespeare' after it had been through a shredder a few times.

    Not to mention even when fresh you could read the flash drive on any computer, whereas to read the DNA you'd need an expensively equipped sequencing lab and a few months training. Maybe someday this will be a practical method.

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    Arrow

    Amazing.

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    Heh heh. What happened to my "God beat us to it" post. Forum says this thread was started 2 days ago, but top post says 1 week ago, and I know this thread sat around for a while before anyone responded, and that was a few weeks ago. Hmm... must be a bug in the forum software

    Anyway, there is some technology that stores data in crystals. It sounds more durable than vials of, er, DNA. BTW, DNA turns to dust is it's not kept in suspension, by, er, stuff, y'know.

    Crystal memory allows efficient storage of quantum information in light | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

  10. #10
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Which is why this "discussion" is in the Coffee Lounge! If it has any resemblance to reality, it was unintentional!
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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