DNA, the ultimate digital storage


While cleaning out an old file cabinet last week I found a box of floppy disks. Hope they didn’t contain any vital documents because I’d need a time machine to retrieve them. Which begs the question: With technology changing so often and so fast, how do we safeguard not just my college term papers but all knowledge, i.e., civilization itself?

Researchers with the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, England, think they have the answer … DNA.

Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman may have come up with the solution in a pub over a few beers, according to the BBC, but the idea isn’t as crazy as it seems. George Church encoded his book into DNA, the Harvard geneticist reported in Science last year.

And Birney and Goldman have “saved” Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Watson and Crick’s double helix paper on DNA.

Granted, it’s a wee bit pricey.

For the moment, you need $220 to read each megabyte of DNA data but $12,400 to write it in the first place; however, these costs are likely to fall 100-fold within the next decade.