Scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute are squeezing unparalleled amounts of data in to synthetic DNA, and now they've achieved something absolutely amazing: they can store 2.2 petabytes of information in a single gram of DNA, and recover it with 100 per cent accuracy.
The researchers have encoded an MP3 of Martin Luther King's 1963 "I have a dream" speech, along with all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, into a string of DNA. Scaled up, that represents a storage density of 2.2 petabytes per gram. What's amazing, though, is that they've managed to achieve that whilst also implementing error correction in the complex chains of molecules, allowing them to retrieve content with 100 per cent accuracy.
The technique uses the four bases of DNA — A, T, C and G — to achieve the high information density. It is, understandably, still incredibly expensive: creating synthetic DNA and then sequencing it to read off the data is getting far easier, but it's still a time- and cash-consuming business. Keep hold of your hard drives for now, but DNA could represent a viable storage solution in the future. [Nature via New Scientist]
Image by Tacu Alexei/Shutterstock