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Monday, November 3, 2014

Extreme Storage Using DNA

We all wonder what will happen to our current audio or video project data as the years progress. Many types of media that we thought would last for thousands of years now appear to have a much shorter lifetime than originally thought, and the playback units have an even shorter lifetime.

Not to worry - the clever scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute have come up with a novel way of storing data, and lots of it - using DNA.

It turns out that DNA actually has a lot of benefits. First of all, it's very dense so it can be packed with data, and the Harvard team packed 700 terabytes into a single gram so far! In fact, it's been estimated that about 4 grams of DNA could store the entire worlds info (1.4 zetabytes as of 2011).

Secondly, it's stable so it lasts for hundreds of thousands of years at normal room temperatures, while many current cutting-edge storage technologies work only in a sub-zero vacuum. It's also volumeteric so it can be stored in a beaker or any shape container, while most storage that we use today is planer, like hard discs.

And yes, since it's DNA, you can potentially use your skin as a storage medium. How's that for security.

It's not coming to your local Fry's or Apple Store anytime soon though, so we'll be living be hard drives (although we're quickly getting to the solid state era) for at least the near future.

Here's a video that explains DNA storage from the researchers themselves.


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