Remember the old 3.5 inches floppy drives having 1.44 Megabytes of data or CD’s, today mobile phone carries 44 thousand times more storage as compared to floppy drive of old times.
Technology has changed a lot since, then. But, imagine if you want to fit 10,000 of Gigabytes on the head of a Pin, this all sounds ‘IMPOSSIBLE’, but it’s possible if our storage media is DNA. The tech giant Microsoft has come up biology with solutions for data storage. They just purchased 10 million strands of synthetic DNA to use for digital data storage research from Twist Bioscience.
Picture Courtesy: www.theworldweekly.com
DNA is the programming language of our genetic codes and it depends upon four depend blocks; Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine and you can think of them as being similar to those 0’s & 1’s we use in machine language which actually encodes information that are cells depends upon all their behaviors and DNA can store a lot of data in a very small space.
The theoretical limit for data storage in DNA is in Exabyte of data per cubic millimeter so you can store a billion GGB of data in two/tenth of a thousand of a tea spoon and can store data for up to 500 years in even harsh environments compare this to the traditional storage media’s like CD’s or Floppy disks those might last 5 or 10 years before being corrupted even magnetic tapes can last between 15 and 30 years.
Picture Courtesy: phys.org
A few teams of computer scientists around the world have been experimenting with ways to store data in to DNA and they worked with Bio-engineers to synthesize data and build it block-by-block. In April 2016, a group of scientists with the University of Washington, USA collaborated with Microsoft research to come up with a new means of encoding information in DNA. They took the binary data of the file they wanted to encode and they converted into base four to match those four building blocks of DNA. They then included ID tags that allow them to access any byte within a large pool of data. They encoded four large files and were able to access almost perfectly.
Picture Courtesy: splice-bio.com
Now the real barrier is that it takes a lot of money and time to synthesize and sequence data in DNA. But, the scientists are working to put the barrier down every single day. There are companies that are parsing data and making a lot of money. We produce around 25 Billion Gigabyte every day; just imagine a storage place to put that data at the size of a Sugar Cube.