Researchers Encode Entire Book Into DNA

August 17, 2012 Paul M. Davis

Photo by ynse via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 license.

As Big Data grows and storage moves to the cloud, it’s easy to forget that all that information still takes up physical space, even if that space is a server farm half a world away. But as data grows bigger, storage is becoming smaller. Case in point: geneticists from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in Boston, Massachusetts and Johns Hopkins University have encoded an entire book about synthetic biology into DNA. The book weighs in at 5.27 megabits, a long way away from Big Data’s zettabytes and exabytes of information, but as Nature magazine reports, the future of “DNA microchips” is promising: by encoding two bits of data per nucleotide, researchers theorize that a double-stranded DNA molecule could store 455 exabytes per gram.

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