Death of the hard drive? Scientists store data inside DNA that could last MILLIONS of years.

STORING DATA INSIDE DNA
In 2013, researchers from the European Bioinformatics Institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire 'downloaded' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA.
In 2013, researchers from Cambridgeshire 'downloaded' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA (illustrated)
In 2013, researchers from Cambridgeshire 'downloaded' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA (illustrated)
Scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.
The same technique made it possible to store a 26-second excerpt from Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech and a photo of the Cambridgeshire laboratory where the work took place.
For their experiment, the scientists used a tiny amount of synthetic, dry DNA.
Five genetic 'letters' from the genetic code - A,C,G and T - were used to represent the zeros and ones that make up 'bytes' of digital information.
For instance, the upper case T in the word 'Thou' from the second line of Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII - 'Thou art more lovely and more temperate' - was encoded by the sequence TATAT.
The scientists then incorporated an 'error correction', similar to that found laptops and mobile phones.
This involved overlapping short strands of DNA and independently writing every million-molecule fragment of code four times.
Effectively, three back ups were created for each fragment, greatly reducing the chances of mistakes.
This was a similar method used by Reinhard Heckel from ETH Zurich's Communication Technology Laboratory for the recent study.


And, because the silica spheres are comparable to the way DNA is protected in fossilised bones, the researchers concluded that if stored at certain temperatures, the data could survive for millions of years.
The team used the example of extremely low temperatures, such as -18° C.
By comparison, data on microfilm can be preserved only for an estimated 500 years.
Scientists used an 'error correction' similar to those found in laptops (stock image). This involved adding data to each fragment to create back ups
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Scientists used an 'error correction' similar to those found in laptops (stock image). This involved adding data to each fragment to create back ups
As the researchers pointed out, this is not the first time DNA has been used to store information and digital data.
In 2013, researchers from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire 'downloaded' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA.
Scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.
Dr Nick Goldman, from the EBI said: 'We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it.
The scientists then incorporated an 'error correction', similar to that found laptops and mobile phones.
This involved overlapping short strands of DNA and independently writing every million-molecule fragment of code four times.
Effectively, three back ups were created for each fragment, greatly reducing the chances of mistakes.
This was a similar method used by Reinhard Heckel from ETH Zurich's Communication Technology Laboratory for the recent study.
The researchers from EBI stressed that the DNA used was wholly artificial and different to the genetic molecules of life, and if it was added to a human body, it would degrade and be disposed of.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2955663/Death-hard-drive-Scientists-store-data-inside-DNA-MILLIONS-years.html#ixzz3RvuvotBd
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