Scientists Successfully Stored ‘Wizard of Oz’ Into DNA
A team of interdisciplinary researchers has discovered a new technique to store information in DNA – in this case “The Wizard of Oz,” translated into Esperanto – with unprecedented accuracy and efficiency. The technique harnesses the information-storage capacity of intertwined strands of DNA to encode and retrieve information in a way that is both durable and compact. The technique is described in a paper in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The key breakthrough is an encoding algorithm that allows accurate retrieval of the information even when the DNA strands are partially damaged during storage,” said Ilya Finkelstein, an associate professor of molecular biosciences and one of the authors of the study.
Humans are creating information at exponentially higher rates than we used to, contributing to the need for a way to store more information efficiently and in a way that will last a long time. Companies such as Google and Microsoft are among those exploring using DNA to store information.
“We need a way to store this data so that it is available when and where it’s needed in a format that will be readable,” said Stephen Jones, a research scientist who collaborated on the project with Finkelstein; Bill Press, a professor jointly appointed in computer science and integrative biology; and Ph.D. alumnus John Hawkins. “This idea takes advantage of what biology has been doing for billions of years: storing lots of information in a very small space that lasts a long time. DNA doesn’t take up much space, it can be stored at room temperature, and it can last for hundreds of thousands of years.”