Digital info can be stored in DNA

2013-01-23 22:32
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - It can store the information from a million CDs in a space no bigger than your little finger and could keep it safe for centuries.

Is this some new electronic gadget? Nope. It's DNA.

The genetic material has long held all the information needed to make plants and animals, and now some scientists are saying it could help handle the growing storage needs of today's information society.

Researchers reported on Wednesday that they had stored all 154 Shakespeare sonnets, a photo, a scientific paper, and a 26-second sound clip from US civil rights leader Martin Luther King jnr's "I Have a Dream" speech. That all fit in a barely visible bit of DNA in a test tube.

The process involved converting the ones and zeroes of digital information into the four-letter alphabet of DNA code.

That code was used to create stands of synthetic DNA. Then machines "read" the DNA molecules and recovered the encoded information.

That reading process took two weeks, but technological advances are driving that time down, said Ewan Birney of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, England. He's an author of a report published online by the journal Nature.

DNA could be useful for keeping huge amounts of information that must be kept for a long time but not retrieved very often, the researchers said.

Storing the DNA would be relatively simple, they said: Just put it in a cold, dry and dark place and leave it alone.

The technology might work in the near term for large archives that have to be kept safe for centuries, like national historical records or huge library holdings, said study co-author Nick Goldman of the institute.

Maybe in a decade it could become feasible for consumers to store information they want to have around in 50 years, like wedding photos or videos for future grandchildren, Goldman said in an e-mail.

The researchers said they have no intention of putting storage DNA into a living thing, and that it couldn't accidentally become part of the genetic machinery of a living thing because of its coding scheme.

Sriram Kosuri, a Harvard researcher who co-authored a similar report last September, said both papers show advantages of DNA for long-term storage. But because of its technical limitations, "it's not going to replace your hard drive," he said.

Kosuri's co-author, Harvard DNA expert George Church, said the technology could let a person store all of Wikipedia on a fingertip, and all the world's information now stored on disk drives could fit in the palm of the hand.

- AP
Read more on:    uk  |  genetics
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 1 725 000

FARMS FOR SALE IN Stellenbosch

Farms R 19 900 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Petrol generators from R1399, save up to R350. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

This week only - 30% off books!

Get 30% off when you buy 2 or more books. Many titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

New range of Samsung smartphones!

Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and Alpha now available at kalahari.com. while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 eBooks & only pay for 2!

The cheapest of the 3 titles will be free. Many more titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You tend to feel more comfortable on an intellectual level. The deep emotional under current today can make you feel a little...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.