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Scientists set up systems for DNA data storage

Image: DNA molecule
A 3-D animation shows how DNA can be used in computational devices. (Credit: Microsoft Research)

Data storage is getting better and better, but the final frontier for the long-term preservation of digital bits may well be DNA molecules – and the University of Washington and Microsoft Research are trying to make it so.

The work on DNA data storage architecture is one of the angles in Friday’s New York Times story on the subject. In a paper prepared for an international conference on software architecture, researchers propose an error-tolerant encoding scheme for reading out the data in a DNA-based storage system.

Such a system would take advantage of DNA’s amazing information storage capability – the kind of capability that’s able to hold all the genetic code for any organism in a single cell. The Times notes that all of the world’s digital information could be stored in about 2.4 gallons (9 liters) of solution, which would fit inside a typical water cooler bottle.

The benefits of such a system not only include being able to put a lot of data in a small space, but also being able to preserve the data for millennia under the right conditions.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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