While electronics engineers continually amaze consumers with technology that boasts more functions and greater memory capacity, researchers recently discovered a secret in nature that may revolutionize data storage. Using this natural wonder in space barely visible, scientists successfully stored the amount of information commonly held by approximately one million CDs. The wonderment capable of handling this vast amount of data is none other than deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA.
Researchers acknowledge that many secrets contained within DNA remain uncovered. These invisible components of life hold the information necessary for recreating every living thing on the planet. Scientists now believe that this common but miniscule genetic material may hold the key to storing the ever-growing amounts of data created in the current technological society.
The size of the DNA strand required for harboring the phenomenal quantity of information appeared only slightly visible when contained within a test tube. The data that scientists recorded onto the DNA included all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, a photograph, a complete scientific paper and a brief sound clip of one of Martin Luther King Mr.‘s speeches.
Researchers accomplished the feat by transforming a traditional binary code using the first four letters found in the nucleic bases of DNA. Adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine comprise DNA. With this knowledge, scientists took the A, C, G and T for their DNA code. The initial attempt entailed using the A and C for the binary 0 coded, and the G and T represented the 1 code. However, the men encountered complications when translating the data back into a binary code. Scientists then created a more sophisticated code that more closely resembled the variations often found in DNA.
The new code converts one byte of data into a five-letter word made from the four letters. Scientists then combined these words into strings containing 117 letters each. They then overlapped these sequences, making decoding more consistent. The new code proved 100 percent successful and accurate. The storing process merely requires placing the synthetically produced DNA in a cold, dark, dry environment for indefinite lengths of time. This method of storage may hold the possibility of protecting data for centuries.
Scientists uncovered the resilience of DNA after extracting the code from a mammoth encased in ice for over 60,000 years. The durability of this incredible natural technology makes DNA encoding virtually destruction proof. DNA may prove a viable means of protecting our entire culture and library for eons. Sequencing and translating methods may change over time, but the code that forms the basis of all life never varies.
The research team believes that the ramifications for data storage using DNA remain staggering. The men suspect that given the recent discovery, a mere 41 grams of DNA might ably protect one quadrillion bytes of information. Until scientists simplify the method, the process requires too many complexities for everyday use.
While some may fear that researchers may use this coding for turning humans or other living things into science fiction super spies, scientists reassuringly claim that that scenario remains unlikely. The coding process required for this technology prevents insertion into living DNA. Anyone interested in the uses for identifying human DNA should visit GTLDNA.com.
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