home
RSS
Shakespeare, thou art stored in DNA
January 23rd, 2013
01:01 PM ET

Shakespeare, thou art stored in DNA

The stuff we’re made of may be the means by which we store information that we want kept around long after we're gone.

Scientists have developed a technique of storing information in DNA, the molecule found in living creatures including humans that contains genetic instructions. The experiment is discussed in a new study in the journal Nature.

Researchers aren't using DNA from any living organism, or one that was once alive; instead, they are synthesizing it.

"We’re using DNA here as a chemical molecule of storage. It just happens to be the same molecule that is used in our bodies as well," said Ewan Birney, senior author of the study and geneticist at the United Kingdom's European Bioinformatics Institute, at a press briefing Tuesday.

As long as the DNA is kept cold, dry and dark, it will last for a long time. Consider that scientists can sequence DNA from woolly mammoths tens of thousands of years old that’s preserved by chance.

“There must be some point in time when it’s cheaper to store information for that length of time as DNA than as something that requires electricity or some other maintenance cost to keep it around,” Birney said.

Birney and colleagues did the math, and found that although DNA storage is expensive, it's more cost-effective than other methods if you want to preserve a digital file for somewhere between 600 and 5,000 years. However, the scientists say the synthesis cost will probably come down in the next decade, so DNA storage could even work for ensuring your grandchildren can see your wedding photos.

"Anything that you want to store we could store," Birney said. "Really, the only limit is the expense."

Study collaborators at Agilent Technologies provided DNA synthesis free of charge for the Nature paper, but commercial rates for DNA synthesis are probably between $10,000 and $30,000, researchers said.

The technique, researchers said, could even encode a zettabyte’s worth of data. That's enough to encompass the total amount of digital information that currently exists on Earth, which would be "breathtakingly expensive" right now, Birney said.

Researchers used five different kinds of digital information to show that their method would work to preserve a variety of media in DNA. These included a text file with William Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, a PDF of a scientific paper, a photo in JPEG format of the European Bioinformatics Institute, and an MP3 audio excerpt of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Scientists showed that they could encode these files in DNA and then, by sequencing the DNA, reconstruct them with 100% accuracy.

So how would your digital files translate into DNA?

Text on your computer, while it may look like words, is actually encoded in your computer as ones and zeros - this is called binary. For the purposes of DNA synthesis, scientists took that information and converted it to base 3 – that is, zeroes, ones and twos.

From there, the data gets translated into collections of DNA’s nucleic acid bases, represented by the letters A, C, G and T.

That’s how scientists encode the DNA fragments. 

This is not the first study of its kind. In 2012, George Church of Harvard University and colleagues published a paper in the journal Science describing their own strategy for DNA storage. That research group operated independently from the British scientists.

One distinguishing factor in the new study is error correction, Goldman said. Built into their method are measures that adjust for possible errors in translating the digital material into DNA and back again.

An example is that the translation method in Goldman's study does not allow for identical letters of DNA to be next to each other - in other words, there are no instances of "AA" in the final DNA code, since this kind of repetition could cause errors, Birney said. They also encode the same piece of information multiple times in different ways in the DNA, in case something goes wrong.

DNA has the advantage of being light and small, researchers said. One of Shakespeare’s sonnets would weigh 0.3 picograms (10^-12) grams, said Nick Goldman, lead study author.

A small test tube holds about a petabyte – a billion megabytes – of data. DNA storing this much information is about as big as the space between the top two joints of your little finger, Goldman said.

“A gram of DNA would hold the same information as a bit over a million compact discs,” Goldman said. “Your storage options are: one thing a bit smaller than your little finger, or a million CDs.”

Given DNA's small size and long endurance, according to Goldman and Birney, the method could be used to propagate information about our current selves thousands of years into the future - assuming, of course, our descendants in the year 4013 understand languages as we speak and write them today.


soundoff (600 Responses)
  1. RV Frame Riverside

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your web site.

    https://ouo.io/n1cIi7

    May 8, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Mechanics California

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly pleased I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    https://payskip.org/lZ6ivx1pudsl

    May 8, 2021 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Steps Orange County

    https://cpmlink.net/9c1sAQ

    May 9, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Local Marketing Jobs Near Me

    https://www.rdame.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Video Marketing Agencies

    https://onlinegoldcoast.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Santa Ana

    Greetings, I believe your blog might be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, wonderful website!

    http://rocketball.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Social Media Marketing Job

    I could not refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

    http://www.dataaccount.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Content Marketing Firms

    Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I'll send this article to him. Fairly certain he'll have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    https://somosmoto.pe/banners/click?link=http3A2F2Faffordableranking.com&id=6A

    May 9, 2021 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Seo Marketing Company Near Me

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks for sharing!

    https://5only.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Google Marketing Business

    Very nice write-up. I certainly appreciate this website. Continue the good work!

    https://gait-study.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.affordableranking.com

    May 9, 2021 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Content Marketing Firms

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!

    http://easywind.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 10, 2021 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Social Media Marketing Job Orange County

    http://www.maxxfootball.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 10, 2021 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Social Media Marketing Associations

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a friend who had been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast simply because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your internet site.

    http://www.casaldesaosimao.com/?wptouch_switch=desktop&redirect=http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 10, 2021 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Content Marketing Brea

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that will make the most important changes. Thanks for sharing!

    http://editionsquebecormedia.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 10, 2021 at 19:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Content Marketing Masters

    http://www.bibliotheque.mairie-reze.fr/sarasvati/ws/secure/redirect.ashx?INSTANCE=EXPLOITATION&url=http3A2F2Faffordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 00:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Digital Marketing Center

    http://amblav.it/aggiornabannerstatistiche.aspx?idbanner=251&link=http://affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Seo Marketing Quotes

    http://www.blendermama.com/redir/?http://www.affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Internet Marketing Job San Clemente

    Saved as a favorite, I love your website!

    http://www.lightspeedventurecapital.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 06:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Cornell Metcalfe

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2005/02/attention-all-muggles.html

    May 11, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Social Media Marketing Management

    You have made some decent points there. I checked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.

    https://www.oximunol.info/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Content Marketing Service

    After going over a number of the blog posts on your web page, I truly appreciate your way of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website as well and let me know your opinion.

    https://www.hfw1970.de/redirect.php?url=https://www.affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Social Media Marketing Jobs

    http://www.pik-plitka.ru/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=news_out&event2=&goto=http://affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Seo Marketing Help

    http://brettterpstra.com/share/fymdproxy.php?url=http://affordableranking.com

    May 11, 2021 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. temecula roof repair

    http://www.osbar.org/secured/plf/remote_logout.asp?returnurl=https://ocrvcenter.org/construction-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 11, 2021 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Slide Out California

    After exploring a handful of the blog posts on your web site, I truly appreciate your technique of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website too and tell me your opinion.

    https://www.ftb.pl/redirect.asp?typ=link&url=https://www.facebook.com/ocrvcenter

    May 12, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. rv parts san diego ca

    Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don't seem to get anything done.

    http://azlan.techdata.com/InTouch/GUIBnrT3/BnrTrackerPublic.aspx?CountryCode=18&BannerLangCulture=nl-nl&URL=https://ocrv.org/rv-furniture-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. camper repairs near me

    http://oraung02.iamgold.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.us/rv-driver-seat-repair-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Viola Johnting

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusuf-hanafy-82493b183

    May 12, 2021 at 05:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. motorhome repair shop

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the most useful sites online. I'm going to recommend this website!

    http://sportsinsights.actionnetwork.com/affiliatewiz/aw.aspx?B=53&A=188&Task=Click&TargetURL=https://youtube.com/watch?v=7k6vQdq9amI

    May 12, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. furniture repair shops near me

    https://adengine.old.rt.ru/go.jsp?to=https://ocrv.rocks/crane-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. windshield repair orange ca

    Hello! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you have right here on this post. I will be coming back to your site for more soon.

    http://sintesi.provincia.brescia.it/portale/LinkClick.aspx?link=https://ocrvcenter.co/semi-truck-collision-repair-shop-near-me

    May 12, 2021 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. rv furniture near me

    http://p-bandai.jp/access/ocrv.guru/rv-repair-shop-carlsbad-california

    May 12, 2021 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Roof Los Angeles

    Hello, I do think your website could be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent site!

    http://controlledrelease.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=youtube.com/channel/UCGb9aC76nAmfzNsCru2KBHA/videos

    May 12, 2021 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Refrigerator Riverside

    http://ea.org.au/EmRedirect.aspx?nid=0b6b7f1e-bbf7-403f-a4ec-93a22db1cc9b&url=http://g.page/OCRVFleetServices

    May 12, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. furniture repair in orange county ca

    https://www.priyo.com/feed/redirection?url=https://ocrvshop.com/rv-slide-out-repair-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. toy restoration near me

    https://foaf-visualizer.gnu.org.ua/?url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=ARGDTWl9L9Q

    May 13, 2021 at 04:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. rv repair

    http://apps.vienna.at/feat/microsite/webcams/welcome.asp?url=ocrv.guru/rv-couch-repair-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 04:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Beds Orange County

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return once again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.

    http://jamsandjellies.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.instagram.com/ocrvcenter

    May 13, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. window repair orange county

    Great post. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well..

    https://www.isixsigma.com/share.php?site=https://ocrvcenter.mobi/rv-repair-shop-brea-california

    May 13, 2021 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. beeg me

    https://adhq.com/_track_clicks?hqid=472&bid=23208&type=website&campaign=BMD&source=acoustical-ceiling&url=https://youtube.com/watch?v=rSnguf98IuQ

    May 13, 2021 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Technician California

    There's certainly a great deal to know about this issue. I really like all of the points you made.

    https://www.griffinlogistic.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=youtube.com/channel/UCGb9aC76nAmfzNsCru2KBHA/videos

    May 13, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. rv countertop remodel

    http://transportation.automation.com/statistics/logClick.php?statType=commerce&pageId=33&Id=189&redirect=https://ocrv.art/rv-repair-shop-canoga-park-california

    May 13, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. camper restoration near me

    I blog quite often and I genuinely appreciate your information. This article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.

    https://hslda.org/content/a/LinkTracker.aspx?id=4015475&appeal=385&package=36&uri=https://ocrv.club/rv-repair-shop-palm-springs-california

    May 13, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. rv rentals orange county ca

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch due to the fact that I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your web page.

    https://assine.hostnet.com.br/cadastro/?rep=17&url=https://ocrvmotorcoaches.com/motorhome-inspection-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. socal upholstery

    After exploring a number of the blog articles on your blog, I honestly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website as well and tell me what you think.

    https://espqa.memorialhermann.org/url?q=https://ocrv.guru/rv-slide-out-repair-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Handicap Van Repair

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thank you!

    https://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/androgenetic-alopecia/?showmore=1&returnlink=https://sprintervanrepairshop.com/box-truck-restoration-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. rv parts close to me

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

    https://www.luerzersarchive.com/goto/url/ocrv.life/rv-repair-shop-toluca-lake-california

    May 14, 2021 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. california girl pics

    http://zumax.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.rocks/rv-technician-near-me

    May 14, 2021 at 05:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. orange county tire

    http://sportadmin.se/SSO/?REF=https://ocrvcenter.co/rv-repair-shop-laguna-niguel-california

    May 14, 2021 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Renovation Riverside

    https://www.5daysleft.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=g.page/ocrvcenter

    May 14, 2021 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.