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Coming soon: High-def versions of every movie, TV program EVER MADE in teacup-sized hard drive

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A landmark study in the United Kingdom has paved the way to storing huge amounts of data using the same method evolved by Nature to write the ""Book of Life." Work in a Cambridgeshire laboratory has led to a genetic storage device that was used to download all of 154 sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists have been  able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy. The same method made it possible to store a 26 second excerpt from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech along with a photo of the laboratory where the work took place.

This advance could theoretically put 100 million hours of high definition video in a cupful of DNA, equivalent to every film and TV program ever created.

Unlike magnetic tape, which degrades in 10 years, DNA is a hardy material that can last for tens of thousands of years. A DNA archive would also not require a constant supply of electric power, as do hard disks.

British scientists employed a California-based company to create strands of artificial DNA that corresponded to their coding instructions. The end result? A small test-tube the size of a little finger containing a tiny amount of dry dusty material, the DNA, which was then "read" and decoded to reproduce the original files.

Five genetic 'letters' from the genetic code . A,C,G and T were used to represent the noughts and ones that make up 'bytes' of digital information.
 
For instance, the upper case T in the word "Thou" from the second line of Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII, "Thou art more lovely and more temperate" - was encoded by the sequence TATAT.

"We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it." Dr Nick Goldman, from the European Bioinformatics Institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire says.

"It's also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy.

"We've created a code that's error tolerant using a molecular form we know will last in the right condition for 10,000 years, or possibly longer.

"As long as someone knows what the code is, you will be able to read it back if you have a machine that can read DNA.'

The scientists crossed a major hurdle by incorporating "error correction" similar to that found in devices such as laptops and mobile phones.

This involved overlapping short strands of DNA and independently writing every million-molecule fragment of code four times.

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