Science never ceases to amaze. George Church and Sri Kosuri of Harvard’s Wyss Institute have managed to pack about a thousand times more data into DNA than ever before, reports ExtremeTech. The bioengineer and geneticist recently encoded about 5.5 petabits (about 700,000 gigabytes, to use a more familiar unit) of data in a single gram of DNA. The data they used was 70 billion copies of Church’s most recent book, which included not only text but photos and some computer code, showing the versatility of the medium.Church and Kosuri’s ability to utilize this method may revolutionize data storage:
Looking forward, they foresee a world where biological storage would allow us to record anything and everything without reservation. Today, we wouldn’t dream of blanketing every square meter of Earth with cameras, and recording every moment for all eternity/human posterity — we simply don’t have the storage capacity. There is a reason that backed up data is usually only kept for a few weeks or months — it just isn’t feasible to have warehouses full of hard drives, which could fail at any time. If the entirety of human knowledge — every book, uttered word, and funny cat video — can be stored in a few hundred kilos of DNA, though… well, it might just be possible to record everything (hello, police state!)
As for right now, encoding information into DNA is a relatively lengthy and novel process and so probably far from any practical applications. But it’s a clear sign that the information revolution is nowhere near being over. Not only has Moore’s Law held true for far longer than anyone expected, but the increasing ability to store denser amounts of data in smaller and smaller media suggest that computers are going to continue to improve for a very long time to come.