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Researcher Nick Goldman holds the DNA   (Source: European Molecular Biology Laboratory)
The only issue with this technique is that it's very expensive (over $10,000)

A team of scientists has found a way to store important text and audio files, such as Shakespeare's sonnets and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, in DNA files.

Over the years, we've seen the evolution of storage devices range from floppy discs, to compact discs, to flash drives, etc. The problem is that digital files can take up a lot of space, and magnetic tapes need to be rewritten every few years to preserve the information.

While discussing the issue over beers, Nick Goldman and Ewan Birney, both from the European Bioinformatics Institute in the UK, came up with the idea to store text and audio on DNA since it could store files without electricity for thousands of years.

To see if it would work, the researchers converted the 0s and 1s of a computer file into letters that make up genetic code. From there, they took bits of the "I have a dream" speech and Shakespeare's sonnets and encoded them into DNA letters. They even added a picture of their institution, and the end result was a nearly invisible piece of dust in a test tube.

What's great about this method is that it makes multiple, overlapping copies of pieces of DNA, and this offers a built-in error-checking system.

The only issue with this technique is that it's very expensive. In fact, it would cost more than $10,000 to use a gene-sequencing machine to read the DNA. It also took about two weeks.

While this isn't practical right now, the team said costs and time would improve over the years. In the future, this could be an ideal way to retrieve information without worrying about space and degradation.

Source: MSNBC





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