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Scientists say all the world’s data can fit on a DNA hard drive the size of a teaspoon

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One gram of DNA can potentially hold up to 455 exabytes of data, according to the New Scientist.

The cloud computing company EMC estimated that there were 1.8 zettabytes of data in the world in 2011, which means we would need only about 4 grams of DNA to hold everything from Plato through the complete works of Shakespeare to Beyonce’s latest album.

To encode information on DNA, scientists program the pairs into 1s and os-the same binary language that encodes digital data.

This is not a new concept-scientists at Harvard University encoded a book onto DNA in 2012-but up to now, it had been difficult to retrieve the information stored on the DNA. Past tests have seen gaps in retrieved information, as DNA reacts with its environment and degrades at room temperature.

When researchers recovered the sample, they were still able to read the encoded data, and Grass told the Institute’s blog that had the DNA been stored at subzero temperatures, it could potentially be read in over a million years.

The DNA sample created for the Institute’s test-the Swiss federal charter and the Archimedes Palimpsest-was about 83 kilobytes of data and cost £1,000 to produce, Grass told the New Scientist.

So there may come a time when a future being venturing out into the nuclear winter finds a DNA data store and will be able to peruse the greatest achievements of humanity up until the turn of the 20th century.

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Article originally posted at qz.com

Post Author: Meghan Rosen

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