Researchers from Columbia University and the New York Genome Centre have stored a computer operating system, a short movie along with other data in DNA. The study, published in journal Science, showed that an algorithm designed for streaming video on a cellphone could unlock DNA’s nearly full storage potential by squeezing more information into its four base nucleotides.
DNA is an ideal storage medium because it is ultra-compact and can last hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place, as demonstrated by the recent recovery of DNA from the bones of a 430,000-year-old human ancestor found in a cave in Spain.
Researchers compressed the files into a master file, and then split the data into short strings of binary code made up of ones and zeros. The researchers showed that their coding strategy packed 215 petabytes of data on a single gram of DNA, which according to Erlich was the highest-density data-storage device ever created.
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