1. Smart molecule
Each and every day, we create digital data – whether it’s photographing a special moment, chatting on social media, or downloading films, books or music. But if we want to keep that data for decades, or perhaps even beyond our lifetimes, there's a problem.
Currently data is stored on iron oxide hard disk drives and magnetic tapes, which have a short shelf-life and need to be renewed. So scientists have been looking at a more permanent archiving solution: DNA.
DNA is the molecule that contains and passes on our genetic information, and it's remarkably efficient at doing this. Scientists have already had some success at using it to store our legacy.
2. CLICKABLE: Perfect data store?
What makes DNA ideal for storing information? Click on the images below to find out.
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3. Replacing hard drives with DNA
By using DNA as our main data store, all the information in the world could be stored in the back of one van – which might come in handy as the amount of data we're generating grows at an extraordinary rate.
So what’s the catch?
Scientists have successfully encoded several digital files in DNA – but they admit the technique needs refining before it can be rolled out.
DNA is slow and expensive to make as it requires pinpoint precision to ensure every single molecule is coded accurately. So, at the moment, mass production is not an option.
But as DNA synthesis continues to improve, scientists believe this smart molecule can one day become a realistic permanent storage device for all our data.
4. Success stories
What's it already possible to do with DNA? Click on the options below to find out.