Published: Mon, March 06, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jose Becker

DNA Stores A Computer Operating System And Short Movie

Now, using a new strategy called DNA Fountain, scientists have almost reached DNA's theoretical storage capacity, and still recovered their data with zero errors.

A pair of researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) have come up with a technique to store massive amounts of data on DNA.

DNA Fountain reached almost 90 percent of the theoretical maximum capacity of DNA storage, packing almost 10 times more data per gram than the previous best DNA storage method. It notes that using the new "DNA Fountain" technology all of humanity's data could be stored on a medium weighing and measuring about the same as two pickup trucks.

Scientists have been storing digital data in DNA since 2012.

So what did the duo decide to use to test their method? 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.

The events leading to the creation of the first biological storage device started previous year when Microsoft commissioned over 10 million DNA strands from a company called Twist Bioscience. For this reason, until the performance bottleneck can be broken, DNA storage might be used just for archival purposes. The files were able to be recovered in completely flawless condition with zero errors.

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What's your perspective on the future of storage devices? Put simply, your computer hard drive's days are numbered.

All the files were compressed into a single master file then split into short strings of binary code, all 1s and 0s.

Such a piece of technology is also very stable and trustworthy in its nature.

Erlich explained how DNA is a better option than the current ones we already have. After that, in 2016, researchers from the University of Washington and a team from Microsoft announced their success.

The research team then used special software coded in Python (available on GitHub) to read the DNA molecules and reassemble the data on their computer. For comparison, the brain's memory storage capacity is estimated at about 2.5 petabytes.

"We believe this is the highest-density data-storage device ever created", said Erlich. Their method can encode 215 petabytes of data - twice as much as Google and Facebook combined hold in their servers- on a single gram of DNA or 100 times more than previously demonstrated. The data recovery was error free and a virtually unlimited number of copies of their DNA files could be made using the polymerase chain reaction, which is "a standard DNA copying technique". This means that we need to think about new approaches for data storage. "I would guess more than a decade", he said. Apparently the synthesis of 2 megabytes of data into DNA cost $7,000, and a further cost of $2,000 was involved in reading the data back. They were left with the original files, all perfectly intact.

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