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Magic: The Wizard of Oz successfully stored and retrieved on DNA

The aim of the study was to perfect techniques intended to harness the information-storage capacity of intertwined strands of DNA, as a durable storage medium. Though this demonstration, the researchers were able to encode the entirety of the data and then retrieve the information with complete accuracy. Moreover, the application was found to be long-lasting and compact.

READ MORE: Extracting DNA from museum pieces to reveal secrets

It has previously been established that a strand of DNA preserved in glass could keep data in a readable state for over 2 million years if kept in an optimal environment. This can be natural DNA or synthetic. With the latter, synthetic biology can be used to engineer cells with “molecular recorders”.

The follow-on questions are with how much data and can these data be retrieved and uncoded accurately?

This was the question that researchers from University of Texas at Austin, were keen to answer. According to Professor Ilya Finkelstein: “The key breakthrough is an encoding algorithm that allows accurate retrieval of the information even when the DNA strands are partially damaged during storage.”

The researchers demonstrated this capability by using the novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ by L. Frank Baum, first published in 1900. To demonstrate information retrieval from DNA, the team subjected the DNA containing the text to high temperatures and extreme humidity. These environmental stressors did not damage the DNA in terms of data retrieval.

Other properties of DNA are inspiring scientists.In one case, technologists are attempting to replicate the remarkable ability of DNA to self-repair. This aspect, until fairly recently, has been a mystery to scientists, and yet it just might hold the key to developing self-repairing computers.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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