DNA could be big data storage system of future


For those worried about how data will be stored in the future, scientists are offering hope in the form of molecular structures. Researchers in the United Kingdom have encoded a wide variety of data--including Shakespeare's sonnets, photos, audio and other files--in DNA form, reports Ed Yong at Nature magazine.

The idea behind the project at the European Bioinformatics Institute at Hinxton, in the U.K., is that using synthetic nucleic acids to store data is a tighter and more durable method than using tape or disks because DNA can compress data into a more compact form. As a comparison, the European particle-physics lab in Switzerland, known as CERN, holds about 90 petabytes of information on about 100 tape drives, but researchers say that same volume of data could be held in 41 grams of DNA.

The molecular storage system could also preserve the data for thousands of years under the right conditions, just as the DNA from extinct animals has been preserved in ice. Unfortunately, it is still very expensive to write and read DNA. According to the researchers at EBI, it costs approximately $12,400 to encode a megabyte of information.

For more:
- see Ed Yong's article at Nature

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