As we all know, our genetic material consists of DNA (DesoxyriboNucleic Acid) which is, roughly explained, information needed for protein synthesis. According to different scientific teams, the human genome is between 2 and 3 meters long (i.e. the overall length of the DNA molecules in a single human cell, located normally in the cellular nucleus). Considering that the average diameter of a mammalian nucleus is 6 µm (1 µm is one-thousandth of a millimeter), it is amazing how nature succeeded to compress 2 meters into 6-thousandths of a millimeter.
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Now scientists at the European Bioinformatics Institute use this ability in a unique way, compressing significant amounts of data into synthetic DNA, which is expressed by successful squeezing 2.2 petabytes of information in 1gram of DNA, and recover it with 100% accuracy.
The data “written” in the synthetic DNA was a record of Martin Luther King‘s “I have a dream” speech and all 154 Shakespeare‘s sonnets. Along with that they achieved to implement also error correction in the molecules, allowing them to retrieve content with 100% accuracy.
The technique uses the four bases of DNA – adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G), which are normally bound complementary in pairs – A+T and C+G. However, it is extremely expensive procedure firstly to synthesize DNA and next to sequence it in order to reveal the data. This is still far from replacing the most common data wearing devices, but the project offers very interesting new direction of the process of storing data.