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How DNA can store digital data for thousands of years

Researchers claimed to have made a breakthrough discovery on how to store information for years without using the modern-day hard drives – courtesy, DNA.


How DNA can store digital data for thousands of years

London: Researchers claimed to have made a breakthrough discovery on how to store information for years without using the modern-day hard drives – courtesy, DNA.

In a new research, scientists successfully demonstrated that a massive amounts of digital information can be saved in a single molecule of DNA, which will store the data safely for up to 1 million years.

At the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the team demonstrated that DNA-encapsulated information had endured the equivalent of 2,000 years with no decoding errors.

To come to this conclusion, scientists used a small amount of data for the encoded DNA, around 80 kilobytes of text from the Swiss National Charter and the work of Archimedes.

They then used a machine to synthesize DNA molecules and warmed it to 71C for a week, or the equivalent of being stored at 50C for 2,000 years. The team decoded the DNA and found that it was intact and error-free.

The research was conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).

“A little after the discovery of the double helix architecture of DNA, people figured out that the coding language of nature is very similar to the binary language we use in computers,” Dr Robert Grass of Swiss university ETH Zurich and who led the team was quoted as saying.

“On a hard drive, we use zeros and ones to represent data, and in DNA we have four nucleotides, A, C, T and G,” Grass added.

It is said that DNA holds significant advantages over hard drives, in the bigger picture. In theory, while an external hard drive can hold up to 5 terabytes of data, a fraction of DNA could store more than 300,000 terabytes. 

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