A team led by ETH Zurich’s Robert Grass has just presented a proof-of-concept demonstration of how DNA data storage could potentially work. The scientists were able to encode molecules with 83 kilobytes of text taken from the 1291 Swiss Federal Charter and the 10th century Method of Archimedes. That’s roughly 40 times the amount of text in this article, so it’s a promising start.
The coding language of nature is “very similar” to the computing coding language we’ve created for ourselves, Grass says in a press release, though there are some differences. DNA uses four chemical bases (A, T, C and G) to store data rather than two numbers (1 and 0) but both systems can expand to create combinations that store an infinite amount of data.
Grass says just a fraction of an ounce of DNA molecules could store around 300,000 TB of information – that’s an impressive figure, considering the largest hard drives of today top out at around 16 TB (though you can of course string many hundreds together in servers and data centres). Another advantage is the longevity of DNA, which we know can remain intact for thousands of years.
Based on tests the scientists have carried out, specially treated data-holding DNA could potentially last for millions of years, so the knowledge of the past will always be available for future generations to rely on (and you’ll never have to replace your hard drive). Source: Here’s why DNA could eventually replace hard drives