Scientists have given another eloquent demonstration of how DNA could be used to archive digital data. The UK team encoded a scholarly paper, a photo, Shakespeare's sonnets and a portion of Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech in artificially produced segments of the "life molecule". The information was then read back out with 100% accuracy. It is possible to store huge volumes of data in DNA for thousands of years, the researchers write in Nature magazine. They acknowledge that the costs involved in synthesizing the molecule in the lab make this type of information storage "breathtakingly expensive" at the moment, but argue that newer, faster technologies will soon make it much more affordable, especially for long-term archiving. "One of the great properties of DNA is that you don't need any electricity to store it," explained team-member Dr Ewan Birney from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) at Hinxton, near Cambridge. "If you keep it cold, dry and dark -DNA lasts for a very long time. We know that because we routinely sequence woolly mammoth DNA that is kept by chance in those sorts of conditions." Mammoth remains are many thousands of years old."
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