The Loh Down On Science

DNA Hard Disk

Talk about Great Books . . . made small.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
 
Meet Harvard's George Church. He developed a way to store books in . . . DNA! What? How? By using genetic code like computer code.

See, computers encode content using just two numbers: zero and one. So the sequence zero, one, eleven, ten, ten is a lowercase "z."

The building blocks of DNA? Just four molecules. Church equated two of the molecules with zero and the other two with one. Now, just convert a book's content into zeros and ones and then those into the corresponding DNA molecules. Bam! Gulliver's Travels written in genetic code.

Fuse it into actual DNA strands and file. DNA is stable for millennia. Church stored a 300-page book with pictures and later retrieved it with a DNA sequencer!

The process is slow and expensive. But very space-efficient. All of today’s digital detritus, packed into DNA, would fit on a teaspoon.
 
Think of it not as a bookworm, but a book nanoworm.  Very Lilliputian.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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