This morning I woke up feeling quite sprightly for 05:30am, made a cup of tea and put on the news. This is my usual routine. The news is always so full of despair, usually I find myself wondering why I continue watch it. However, every once in a while a bit of good news gets some air time. There must have been a Blue Moon last night as this morning when I switched on the news, something truly innovative and outstanding was being reported.
In a technological age where we have come leaps and bounds in such a short space of time, very little seems to takes us by surprise. Even the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems ‘normal’ as we’ve become used to the idea of machines performing and sounding like humans. However, this morning I became aware of a form of technology I had no idea was even being worked on. It has blown my mind, there’s no other way to say it. I know that we’re developing technology at the fastest rate ever, but this really is something from a sci-fi movie… The ability to store data as DNA!
Yep, you heard me right. Technology is being developed that will allow you to store date in Genes instead of on a hard drive. Everytime I say it I smile in disbelief. Technology that has the capability to turn 1’s and 0’s into A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s! This is revolutionary! Obviously it’s not widely available at the moment as it continues to be fine tuned. But experts recon that in the next three to five years, those with a lot of money and valuable information (governments) will be able to have their data turned into and stored as DNA. As soon as the next 15 year, they think that this is something that will become as commonplace as a USB stick. But why are they developing this technology? Here are a few reasons:
1. DNA is more dense than data
A huge reason that this technology is being developed is because DNA is more dense and compact than magnetic tapes and hard drives, the data storage methods we use at the moment. Evolution has designed the double-helix of the DNA base structure to be as compact as possible. Using DNA will allow you to store data in smaller spaces and devices. To put it into perspective, if all the data on the internet was to be stored on DNA base sequences, it would only take up a space the size of a shoe box.
2. DNA is ‘Apocalypse Proof’
Storing data as DNA has also been called ‘apocalypse proof’. DNA has the ability to last for tens of thousands of years, as proven by the study of Wooly Mammoth genes. As long as it is stored in a cool, dry, dark place then DNA can last for 60,000+ years. The hope is that, if a global apocalyptic event ever did occur, that any future races would be able to discover, sequence and retrive the data stored in DNA.
3. DNA won’t become obsolete
Another advantage of using DNA to store data is that unlike a floppy disk, DNA will not become obsolete. It is the fundamental method of data storage in biology. Life does not exist without A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s but it can exist without 1’s and 0’s. It seems that using DNA to store data could just be the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what else DNA could be used for? I’m excited to see what the future brings in the way of technological and biological advances!