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Data Storage Biotech Science Technology

Researchers Store Computer OS, Short Movie On DNA ( 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: In a new study published in the journal Science, a pair of researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) show that an algorithm designed for streaming video on a cellphone can unlock DNA's nearly full storage potential by squeezing more information into its four base nucleotides. They demonstrate that this technology is also extremely reliable. Erlich and his colleague Dina Zielinski, an associate scientist at NYGC, chose six files to encode, or write, into DNA: a full computer operating system, an 1895 French film, "Arrival of a train at La Ciotat," a $50 Amazon gift card, a computer virus, a Pioneer plaque and a 1948 study by information theorist Claude Shannon. They compressed the files into a master file, and then split the data into short strings of binary code made up of ones and zeros. Using an erasure-correcting algorithm called fountain codes, they randomly packaged the strings into so-called droplets, and mapped the ones and zeros in each droplet to the four nucleotide bases in DNA: A, G, C and T. The algorithm deleted letter combinations known to create errors, and added a barcode to each droplet to help reassemble the files later. In all, they generated a digital list of 72,000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long, and sent it in a text file to a San Francisco DNA-synthesis startup, Twist Bioscience, that specializes in turning digital data into biological data. Two weeks later, they received a vial holding a speck of DNA molecules. To retrieve their files, they used modern sequencing technology to read the DNA strands, followed by software to translate the genetic code back into binary. They recovered their files with zero errors, the study reports. The study also notes that "a virtually unlimited number of copies of the files could be created with their coding technique by multiplying their DNA sample through polymerase chain reaction (PCR)." The researchers also "show that their coding strategy packs 215 petabytes of data on a single gram of DNA."
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Researchers Store Computer OS, Short Movie On DNA

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    One step closer...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Pioneer plaque? I was reading the above when this article pinged on my RSS feed. I'm still giggling.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @08:37PM (#53966837)
    It's stores in individual units that are base 4. (AGCT instead of 01) Oh, living organisms read 3 units at a time called a codon which is 4^3 or 64 combinations.
  • by Kernel Kurtz ( 182424 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @08:40PM (#53966855) Homepage

    a story here makes me go WOW!

    If this is legit it would be one. Time will tell though.

    • All that "Junk DNA", yeah, an ancient alien secret decoded message. ....cracked 1,000 years later using advanced quantum computing technology.... "Drink your Ovaltine"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The obvious immediate practical use for this technology is for Monsanto to digitally sign their GM crop seeds, to prove without a doubt that those pesky organic farmers next door have stolen their IP.

  • From Nature:

    The rich fossil record of virii in equine species has made them a model for evolutionary processes1. Here we present a 1.12-times coverage draft genome from a virus found in horse bone recovered from permafrost dated to approximately 560–780 thousand years before present (kyrBP)2,3. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA decoding techniques described by Erlich1 et al, [DNA Fountain enables a robust and efficient storage architecture] we recovered a total of 2.14 × 106 bytes in DNA

  • by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:02PM (#53967411) Homepage

    The $50 amazon gift card was a genius idea. With PCR they will become infinitely rich off of those alone!

  • To be a pnemonic courier with this tech.....could probably encode it into your bloodstream or implant a capsule under your skin...

  • I wonder how long before we are uploading a small biopic of our lives or journal of thoughts for passing on from generation to generation... all embedded in our childrens genes... Wild concept...
  • Ruminations (Score:5, Funny)

    by dcooper_db9 ( 1044858 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @12:46AM (#53967749)
    1. Is this the first Sexually Transmittable Video?
    2. Someone should start a blood sharing network. Maybe call it Papster.
    3. This sounds like a really good way to hide your porn.
    4. The OS could not have been from Microsoft. It would have been too bloated. And they said it was fully functional.
  • by broknstrngz ( 1616893 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @01:36AM (#53967861)

    For an updated Johnny Mnemonic remake.

  • If I fertilize a complete operating system with a french film, what will the offspring look like? Plan 9, or Windows Bob?

  • There is nothing special in encoding something with generic code. The real challenge is to make it transcribtable into something meaningful, so a cell could produce something. So far only viruses could do so after hundreds of millions years of trials and errors.
  • Some species stored their porn in DNA, which got dumped somewhere and was the basis for life as we know it today.

  • It has all the hallmarks: It is written "in the code of life", it is an "OS" and a "movie". At the same time it is completely and utterly worthless, because DNA is not a digital storage medium by nature, but a blue-print storage that is limited in what it can store by the reading mechanism to very specific things. Most binary sequences on it are just completely meaningless. May as well put a movie into the pattern of stones used to pace a sidewalk. Possible, but utterly meaningless.

    • May as well put a movie into the pattern of stones used to pace a sidewalk.

      That... is a really cool idea. When I have to repave my driveway, I'm doing that. Not a movie though. Not enough space, even with a fairly small particle size. Maybe a family photo, as a jpg. I'm thinking standard 512 byte sectors, complete with sector header, data section, and ECC section, but rectilinear rather than arcs.

      Possible, but utterly meaningless.

      Well sure, meaningless to you. But not to my family.

  • how Jor-El implanted the codex in Kal-El.

    Not that I need a reason to rewatch a movie with Diane Lane and Ayelet Zurer in it.

  • "They demonstrate that this technology is also extremely reliable."

    Ask anyone who has cancer.