I recently read an article about a two Harvard guys who managed to cram 700 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA. How they did it is actually quite simple to understand. DNA consists of four bases, A, T, G and C. So all they did was assign T and G=1 and A and C=0(I’m not aware of the logic behind it). So if you have a binary sequence of 1000110111000110100, it would simply translate to TAAAGGCTTTAAAGGCTAA. Create strands of DNA with the required sequence and voila! You have a string of binary encoded into DNA. Of course, it’s not as simple as reheating leftover food in the microwave, but like I said, the concept is quite easy to understand.
When Chitti(the awesome Rajnikanth robot) mentioned that its memory is one zettabyte, I wondered if such a thing actually existed. Apparently it exists just as a unit value, and no single storage device has been able to contain one zettabyte of memory yet. So while I readily accepted that a fictitious robot could have one ZB of memory, I find it hard to grasp the much smaller 700 TB, even in fiction. I mean 700 terabytes. That’s more data storage me and my ten subsequent generations would require. I still haven’t yet been able to fill up my 500 GB hard disk with data worthy of preserving until eternity. 700 TB is probably the amount of data a huge organization like a multi-national bank would transact with. The amount of space required to store such colossal data is immense. Not only the space, resources like electricity, security, round-the-clock fire safety etc. and to top it all, back-up, requires massive effort. It’s not an easy task maintaining such data centers and server farms. And the need for storage space keeps mounting. In this event, DNA-based storage is like a boon. Consider this: by current reports, the entire amount of data available on the Internet is close to 3000 TB, so by a simple calculation, the entire world’s electronic information could fit in just 4.2 grams of DNA! This is unfathomable. The total weight of DNA strands in an average individual human is around 60 grams, so we could potentially be carriers of approximately 43000 TB of data! On one side, we have lakhs of square feet of space being created to support the rising demands of data storage, and on the other hand, we have something so small, being able to support storage for insane amounts of data.
The other thing that fascinates me about it is the medium of storage. DNA. DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, for the uninitiated. Until a couple of years before, DNA was this god-like thing, which held all the secrets of living organisms. I only heard about it on Medical Detectives, and a fleeting mention of it in our science class at school. Now, as if genetic modification and cloning were not enough, storing binary data in DNA format is the latest shocker. How do you grasp something that marries two completely different ideas into one? Is this where the line between biology and technology begin to dissolve? Taking it a step further, it might be possible to embed millions of bytes of code into the DNA, and create a DNA-based android, much like the alien robot species in Transformers. If it sounds far-fetched, remember, even the idea of electricity reaching people’s homes in remote areas was a dismissed as crazy until Tesla came up with alternating current.
So you never know. One day, you might be plugging yourself into a computer, to watch that movie you saved on your epidermis. Extract your memory to view it on the big screen (Minority Report ?). Exchange digital information with someone just by touching (now this gives me really weird ideas). Drive Bumblebee around while helping Optimus Prime save the world. The possibilities, are endless.
The link of the article-
Havard guys store digital info in DNA