The new memory storage device: DNA

You know that floppy disks are old technology, and CDs are rapidly becoming outdated. Most of us now use flash drives or external hard drives to store portable memory, but technology is moving so rapidly that soon even these convenient methods of data storage will be out-of-date. What will take their place? DNA. A group of scientists led by Dr. Endy at Stanford have managed to synthetically create a rewritable biological memory storage system. The way their system works is that they splice some genetic elements of a bacteriophage into the E. coli genome. This can be done repeatedly, and the orientation (forward or reverse) codes ‘0’ or ‘1’, which is binary and thus perfect for the digital age.

I’m still a little uncertain about the practical applications of this re-writable DNA system. The researchers suggest that it can be used in recording cell division or differentiation events, for example when studying cancer or aging. So I may have been exaggerating a little bit when saying that the average person might be switching over to DNA storage. But who knows! Technology moves so quickly, that anything is possible.

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