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article imageOp-Ed: Four grams of DNA could store the world’s annual data? Yes!

By Paul Wallis     Aug 19, 2012 in Technology
Sydney - Ma Nature apparently has a sense of humour. The room temperature data storage the world has been looking for has literally been right under our noses for 3.5 billion years- Encoded DNA.
Reading and writing DNA codes is much the same as any kind of code in theory although the processes are different. The difference is that this type of code can reproduce and copy itself.
Science Daily:
…(George) Church, the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and a founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biomedical Engineering at Harvard University, and his team encoded the book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, in DNA, which they then read and copied.
The book currently has 70 billion, yes, billion, copies. Not bad if you’d like a Library of Congress in your pocket.
For those wondering if this will make a difference to the incredibly complex and expensive process of data management:
The researchers used binary code to preserve the text, images and formatting of the book. While the scale is roughly what a 5 ¼-inch floppy disk once held, the density of the bits is nearly off the charts: 5.5 petabits, or 1 million gigabits, per cubic millimeter.
Talk about good use of space. This sort of memory could manage a lot of theoretical systems which conventional memory storage simply can’t do. Robots, smart systems, artificial intelligence in games, you name it, this blows the lid off capacity issues.
Apparently reading and writing is slower than in other media, so the DNA is currently being considered for archival storage, but that was what they said about binary originally. It looked too big to be practical 50 years ago, now it’s universal. The fact is that these higher capacity memories are invaluable for much more efficient processing, so there’s no way slow methods won’t be replaced.
Keep an eye on this technology, because the line between biology and the other sciences is blurring daily.
Four grams- And it can take every bit of data the world produces every year? Looks like the future just dropped in to say hello, doesn’t it?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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