A gram of DNA is worth a million CDs

“The researchers began with the computer files from some notable cultural highlights: an audio recording of MLK Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and, appropriately, a copy of Watson and Crick’s original research paper describing DNA’s double helix structure. On a hard drive, these files are stored as a series of zeros and ones. The researchers worked out a system to translate the binary code into one with four characters instead: A, C, G and T. They used this genetic code to synthesize actual strands of DNA with the content embedded in its very structure.

“The ouput was actually pretty unimpressive: just a smidgeon of stuff barely visible at the bottom of a test tube. The wow factor arose when they reversed the process. The researchers sequenced the genome of the data-laden DNA and translated it back into zeros and ones. The result was a re-creation of the original content without a single error, according to the results published in Nature on Wednesday.”

I wonder if it would be possible to encode fragile cultural treasures, for example, a recording of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, into our personal DNA for safekeeping. Probably not a good idea, but I’d rather trust that than the good will of some corporate server.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2013/01/24/data-storage-in-dna-becomes-a-reality/#.UQucU-ARr7h

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