DNA: The next data storage revolution

Difficult drives, flash drives, genetic drives? Hyunjun Park, co-founder and CEO of Catalog, describes how human DNA can be used to safeguard knowledge.

Dan Patterson, senior producer for CNET and CBS Information, spoke with Hyunjun Park, co-founder and CEO of Catalog, a business operating on DNA data storage. The adhering to is an edited transcript of their discussion.

Hyunjun Park: For the applications of this dialogue, facts is any form of information and facts that we generate in the world. But, for storing purposes, for us, it is truly a sequence of kinds and zeros. It is just a extensive quantity of types and zeros, binary facts that you would usually use a laptop or computer to store with points like difficult drives and flash drives. And we’re now hoping to retail outlet with a new medium, DNA.

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We’re now applying synthetic DNA to store this details, but we might in the future use organic DNA, but it really is truly, if you consider about it, it really is the reverse. We are presently working with organic DNA in our bodies in all the organisms in the globe. We’re using that to shop facts presently. Which is the chromosomes, the DNA within of your cells. That’s storing information and facts in a quite digital manner, but we’re hoping to copy that scheme applying artificial DNA molecules that we mimic. We are now mimicking nature to keep information employing this new medium.

What is synthetic DNA? It truly is, in the close, particularly the same as organic and natural DNA, but we occur from it from a synthetic and synthetic standpoint. We chemically make the molecules that look just like the natural DNA that is in your entire body.

Your body is previously making use of DNA to retail outlet information and facts in a quite electronic way. And by that I indicate, there are four unique items that make up DNA. 4 unique bases, A, T, G, and C, and the sequences of people base pairs dictate the facts that’s stored in it. It really is a pretty digital way in which the human body stores facts. So we’re taking clues from that and using edge of all the attributes of DNA to now retail store electronic information instead than genetic details. And this would happen in a exam tube or in a lab instead than within the mobile.

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Now, the rewards that I mentioned contain issues like incredible info density. Since the body is acquiring to pack in so much genetic data into the articles of a smaller mobile–that suggests you can shop a large amount of data in a really tiny quantity. That is named information density. And when you think about the info density of DNA, we glance at on the buy of 200 petabytes for every gram of DNA.

That suggests a info middle that has an exabyte of details, could be saved in a sugar cube’s worthy of of DNA. That’s a lot of information and facts density. A different advantage is the security of these molecules. You are looking at news out there where we’ve been in a position to sequence the genome of horses that have been preserved in the permafrost for 700,000 yrs. With DNA’s data storage, you can set the info in that medium at the time, and you will be in a position to keep it all around, essentially endlessly. And you can retailer that in a take a look at tube at space temperature, and it is really a really stable kind of info storage.

It sounds quite far fetched, but I can’t acquire credit rating for the thought of storing data in DNA or storing digital data in DNA for the 1st time. That thought has been close to for decades, since the ’50s, even. It just has not been possible to retailer a lot of info applying DNA, because it’s been so pricey to produce info into these molecules.

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What we are undertaking at Catalog that is novel is that we have come up with a platform, a way of performing that in a substantially more affordable and a lot quicker way than what is been doable with existing technological innovation. We have bridged that hole.

How could that arrive into use in serious everyday living? As a demonstration, as a proof of thought last 12 months, we saved all of the English text of Wikipedia into DNA, using a new printing equipment that prints DNA molecules that we designed. You can visualize a really around potential where we would have these machines hooked up to facts centers, and for items that want very long-phrase archival or a remarkably parallel processing, we would keep that details in DNA type and question it as necessary and make hundreds of copies if you have to have it to be. But that’s also a further characteristic of DNA that’s pretty advantageous as a storage medium.

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Image: Dan Patterson

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