six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Jason Snell

DNA as data storage

Katherine Lindemann at ResearchGate:

The researchers wrote six files—a full computer operating system, a 1895 French film, an Amazon gift card, a computer virus, a Pioneer plaque, and a study by information theorist Claude Shannon—into 72,000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long. They then used sequencing technology to retrieve the data, and software to translate the genetic code back into binary. The files were recovered with no errors.

Researcher Yaniv Erlich:

We showed that we can reach a density of 215 Petabytes per gram of DNA! Second, DNA lasts for an extended period of time, over 100 years, which is orders of magnitude more than traditional media. Try to listen to any disk from the 90s, and see if it’s still good. Finally, traditional media suffers from digital obsoleteness. My parents have 8 mm tapes that are basically useless now. DNA has been around for 3 billion years, and humanity is unlikely to lose its ability to read these molecules. If it does, we will have much bigger problems than data storage.

That’s an amazingly dense storage medium. And it sounds like it would last a lot longer than my old Apple II floppy discs.

(via Ramez Naam)