Scientists Turn Human DNA Into A Personal Flash Drive

Scientists Turn Human DNA Into A Personal Flash Drive
Arts & Culture

Scientists have successfully encoded MP3s, Shakespeare's sonnets, and research papers onto strands of the double helix molecules.

Emma Hutchings
  • 28 january 2013

Scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute in the UK have successfully stored and retrieved large amounts of data using DNA. Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, an MP3 of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, and the research paper that first described the double helical nature of DNA, were all encoded into a strand of DNA.

Vast quantities of information could be written into DNA; 2.2 petabytes per gram. This could be archived for tens of thousands of years and retrieved with 100% accuracy.

Why DNA Could Be The New Hard Drive: Store 2.2 PB Of Data On A Single Gram

The Guardian reports that the scientists devised a way to “turn the molecules into digital memory: capable of encoding the 1s and 0s used to store words, images, music and video on computers.” They developed a code that used the four molecular letters or “bases” of genetic material (G, T, C, and A) to store the information.

The current high cost of making DNA means that biological hard drives won’t be practical or affordable for a long time but this demonstrates the viability of the medium as a much better storage solution.


Photo by Duncan Hull

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