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Hong Kong Team Stores 90GB of Data In 1g of Bacteria

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the feed-your-flashdrive dept.

Biotech 164

Bananana writes "A research team out of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has found a way to do data encryption and storage with bacteria. The project is called 'Bioencryption,' and their presentation (as a PDF file) is here."

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Not secure (4, Funny)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344378)

If that bacteria mutates and starts spreading through human hosts, EVERYONE will have your data!

Re:Not secure (5, Funny)

Konsalik (1921874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344400)

Hopefully they will contain the spelling of the word Bacteria :P

Re:Not secure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345004)

Don't you see? They've started mutating ALREADY!

Re:Not secure (3, Funny)

crunch_ca (972937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345022)

It's enrypted. Apparently using a lossy enryption sheme.

Related News.... (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345142)

In related news, the scientist was charged with DMCA violation as the bacteria duplicated data every time it divided into a new cell. RIAA was heard saying this is a blatant copy right violation. Test MP3s were all legally purchased.

Re:Not secure (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344412)

You: <sneeze>
Nelson Muntz: Haw-Haw! All your data are belong to me!

Re:Not secure (2, Funny)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344542)

Nevermind security - what happens if you store an MP3 on these things? Sneezing could get you sued for copyright violation.

Re:Not secure (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344566)

And the next type of malware will be antibiotics? So, Norton will come out with anti-antibiotics software. That sounds sexy.

I think I've heard that quote before... (3, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344830)

Only wimps use tape backup: real men just encode their data into their dna, and let women mirror it ;)

Re:I think I've heard that quote before... (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344974)

Only wimps use tape backup: real men just encode their data into their dna, and let women mirror it ;)

That can be a hella expensive form of storage. Both maintenance and upgrade costs will just kill you.

Re:Not secure (1)

0ptix (649734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345046)

Indeed that would be the case. The data is not actually encrypted as claimed by the group, but rather just encoded. In other words there is no secret password required for recovering the data. Instead all you need is to know the scheme used to encode/decode the data.

By the same token ASCII would be an "encryption" of Roman alphabet (amoungst other symbols). Clearly that's just BS.

Re:Not secure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345314)

If that bacteria mutates and starts spreading through human hosts, EVERYONE will have your data!

If that bacteria mutates and starts spreading through human hosts, EVERYONE will have your data!

... and the RIAA will SUE YOUR ASS (literally)

I'm more interested... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344382)

in what bateria is.

Re:I'm more interested... (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344406)

It's what happens when you store your spell-checking software into 1 gram of bacteria.

Re:I'm more interested... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344428)

With Wikipedia too, it will take over hosts and start living life. (as we know it)

Re:I'm more interested... (3, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344504)

in what bateria is.

It's where the bats eat lunch?

Re:I'm more interested... (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344544)

It's a camel with no hump.

Re:I'm more interested... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344742)

A horse?

Re:I'm more interested... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344766)

that would be bateteria.

Re:I'm more interested... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345088)

Now they can never fix the title or nobody will get the jokes.

Re:I'm more interested... (1)

triazotan (1895064) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344552)

Where I come from "bateria" is the word for "battery". That said: it's quite impressive how much data could be stored in a typicall phone or notebook battery at rate of 90GB/g. Now I foresee hard drive manufacturers will have to put 90Ah/g into their products to stay competitive...

Re:I'm more interested... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344840)

Also "drum kit"... :-)

Re:I'm more interested... (2, Interesting)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345344)

1 gram is of the order of 1 trillion bacteria - I am not impressed by 90G

Re:I'm more interested... (3, Funny)

Arty2 (1742112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344640)

And yet, they till haven't fixed it after so many comments. It mut be intentional!

So that mean (4, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344410)

The next time i wipe my hard drive, I could do it with bleach?

Re:So that mean (1)

ScottySniper (1699386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344512)

It won't completely wipe, most cleaning products kill 99.9% of germs!

Re:So that mean (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344562)

If this is a step toward brain bleach, I'm all for it!

Re:So that mean (1)

Tobenisstinky (853306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344602)

Naw, just stop feeding it!

What about performance? (1)

rvr777 (1082819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344448)

How fast is the data access? Can I use them for RAID 10 in my new storage?

Performance shmerformance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344506)

We need to find a long-term backup medium, as long as I keep a cold slice of pizza on my hard drive, those bacteria will keep munching away and saving my data.

Re:What about performance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344572)

access? Nobody said anything about accessing the data (not in the summary at least)

Re:What about performance? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344952)

What if they move around and mix up the bits?

Bateria? Holy Data Storage Batman (4, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344468)

Bateria?

Was the research funded by Bruce Wayne

Re:Bateria? Holy Data Storage Batman (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344604)

Somebody is going to eat my pussy or I'm going to cut your fucking throat.

Re:Bateria? Holy Data Storage Batman (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344644)

Come with us, you know too much.

Virus? (0)

Lohrno (670867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344478)

Gives new(old?) meaning to the term virus. ;)

Re:Virus? (3, Informative)

nomoreunusednickname (1471615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344600)

No, it doesn't.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344484)

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.

My anti-virus software just deleted all my data!

My Windows computer has been infected! Go buy another 2TB hard drive, I'm running out of space at an exponential rate!

In Soviet Russia, bacteria infects your data!

The Bacteria Protection Agency is up in arms!

Hello nerds. Look at your keyboard, now back to me, now back at your keyboard, now back to me. Sadly, it's infected with bacteria, but if you stopped washing your hands, it could be a lot worst. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re still at your desk reading this shit. What’s on your hand, back at me. I have it, the solution to your storage problems. Look again, the bacteria are now data. Anything is possible when you stop bathing. I’m a trojan horse.

etc.

Re:Obligatory (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344718)

In Soviet Russia, bacteria infects your data!

Better like this: In Soviet Russia, your data infects bacteria!

Re:Obligatory (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344790)

Hello nerds. Look at your keyboard, now back to me, now back at your keyboard, now back to me. Sadly, it's infected with bacteria, but if you stopped washing your hands, it could be a lot worst. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re still at your desk reading this shit. What’s on your hand, back at me. I have it, the solution to your storage problems. Look again, the bacteria are now data. Anything is possible when you stop bathing. I’m a trojan horse.

im speechless after reading this ...

Re:Obligatory (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345160)

It's about how keyboards are more infected than toilet seats [geek.com] . If you thought about something else, it's your own fault.

Re:Obligatory (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345432)

i knew what it was.

Re:Obligatory (2, Informative)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344814)

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.

That's not the star trek reference that jumped into my mind.
I was thinking of these [memory-alpha.org] .

Re:Obligatory (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344936)

The fans always questioned the purpose of those. Their malfunctioning nearly destroyed the ship three times, yet they provide no apparent benefit. They are supposed to be some sort of super-processor, but this is an informed attribute - never is their supercomputing power called upon in any episode.

someone please mod parent up (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344834)

i posted.

Re:Obligatory (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344922)

All your bacteria are belong to us.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345008)

This thread is now bacteria.

Contagious meme! (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344486)

This gives a whole new meaning to the term "contagious meme" :).

Actually, that's not bad (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344508)

For data density, that's not too shabby. 1TB of data fits into approximately 12 grams of storage.

Of course, it depends on the size/weight of the read/write equipment, but could this be comparable to mechanical disks for data density?

Just have to remember to feed and water your computer every so often...and wonder if the data cops would be able to use torture to force-retrieve your data? Poor little bugs...

Re:Actually, that's not bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344652)

From the presentation - slide 35 - it seems that 1g == 900 TB of data, not 90GB! That is quite a lot!

Funny (3, Informative)

Konsalik (1921874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344514)

I see no posts tagged other than funny in this story's future...

Re:Funny (3, Funny)

mikaelwbergene (1944966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344620)

Except, ironically, now your comment will be tagged interesting/informative.

You just foiled your own prediction.

Re:Funny (0, Flamebait)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344686)

That's because, if you try to read the TFA you don't get very far. Even with NoScript more or less completely unloaded, I can't get the links to work.

As far as I can tell, they "encrypt" data with a specific nuclease. If that's all they do, then following the sequence specific behaviors of the enzyme should allow you do 'decrypt' it which isn't terribly secure. But I really can't follow what they are actually doing, if anything.

Bacteriabook (1)

He who knows (1376995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344540)

cant be long now.

Re:Bacteriabook (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344730)

Hey, I just got my brand new LaCie 90GB Hard Petridish!

Hah! (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344582)

Now let's see the TSA mess with my pr0n (sorry, business data) at the airport!

And I can quite happily keep it warm under my balls. "Sorry, officer, it's man juice, really".

Re:Hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344596)

And I can quite happily keep it warm under my balls. "Sorry, officer, it's man juice, really".

OK, I'm just gonna say "Nazi" right now so we can invoke Godwin and be done with this thread. It has already gone as far down-hill as we dare!!

Must stop TSA Nazis from swabbing our balls to see if we're smuggling information. What would that be, nadanography?

I know it's pedantic, buuut... (2, Informative)

mikaelwbergene (1944966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344592)

"The term bateria means “drum kit” in Portuguese and Spanish." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bateria [wikipedia.org]

Does that mean we have to samba every time we access data?

Actually, that sounds kinda fun.

They stored about 100 bytes. (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344598)

What they actually did was to store about 100 bytes. This may be useful for putting copyright information into genetically engineered organisms. As a method of bulk data storage, though, it leaves much to be desired.

DNA synthesis costs about $0.29 per base pair. [google.com] Sequencing is a bit cheaper, but you currently get less than 1000 base pairs sequenced per run. Reading and writing takes a room of expensive wet lab gear, and hours to days.

Re:They stored about 100 bytes. (1)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344770)

As for copyright or other messages in genetically modified organisms, it has been done before [the-scientist.com] .

GIGO (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344610)

I just couldn't help myself with this one.

PETG is outraged! (1)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344628)

In a related story, People for the Ethical Treatment of Germs are outraged. A spokesperson for the agency has offered an official statement requesting minimum hourly wages, paid vacation time off, and retirement benefits. They fell that considering the working environment is quite literally a shit-hole these demands are entirely reasonable.

I'm sorry professor, my roomate ate my homework (2, Funny)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344654)

I had it stored on my brand-new crash-proof bio-Raid 5 array. But Smokey scored a big bag of weed last night, got the hungry and thought the bio-drives were blocks of ice cream I'd forgotten to put away. He tossed them in the freezer and ate 'em with chocolate sauce. I guess crash-proof, isn't munchy-proof.

10x The size listed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344668)

On slide 35 / 47 it claims 900GB, not 90 / 1 gram.

Re:10,000x The size listed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344824)

Actually it says 900,000GB. You were off by 10,000x. Better than the summary though.

Long Term Storage? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344676)

I had no idea that my toilet could become my next data-warehouse.

And it was all destroyed.... (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344722)

By a maid and some Lysol.

Any biologist here? (1)

UBfusion (1303959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344728)

I'd appreciate if a biologist /.er could shed some light to the following questions:

1. How many cells are there in 1 kg of bacteria?

2. How many cells are there in the human body?

3. By analogy, how many bytes can be stored in a human body?

4. How may bytes are stored in a human brain?

and optionally 5. How many cells and bytes are killed by an 1-hour dose of reading /. ?

Re:Any biologist here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344818)

Question #1 is answered in TFA.

Street food as a source of secondary memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344736)

So it is possible to store several petabytes of encrypted data in a human being if the person has had Chinese food at Kendall Square.

Shows the ultimate futility of copyright.. (1, Offtopic)

xtal (49134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344744)

When you can carry around the sum total of humanity's creative works in a backpack that's easily copied, traditional notions of intellectual property become meaningless. No amount of legal penalty will change this. The drive to share the experience of new information is too strong.

Adapt or die.

Re:Shows the ultimate futility of copyright.. (1)

Nailer235 (1822054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344924)

Uhm, the bacteria only holds the information we already have. It doesn't magically hold information that hasn't been created yet. How exactly do traditional notions of intellectual property become meaningless again?

Re:Shows the ultimate futility of copyright.. (1)

xtal (49134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344990)

You can't enforce artificial scarcity in an environment where storage capacity is free.

Do you think home photos are driving HD capacities, or this research?

Tagged "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344784)

I read TFA, and they're storing the data in the Bacteria's DNA. I assume there is a minimum chance of this happening, but if somehow the bacteria mutate and reproduce, perhaps with horizontal gene transfer, I don't know what could happen to existing species. What if suddenly one gene is changed and suddenly harmless bacteria become harmful?

Seriously, have they done a study on the safety of this method? Worst of all, we're not talking about a species which can easily be handled and captured if it ever escapes. We're talking about freaking bacteria.

Re:Tagged "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344934)

Not to mention the fact that DNA has this tendency to mutate.

"Gee I really don't know why the sales figures have fallen, I could have sworn they were normal last night when I wrote this presentation!"

Re:Tagged "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344954)

What if suddenly one gene is changed and suddenly harmless bacteria become harmful?

Then the bacteria becomes harmful. But the risk seems proportional to the number of bacteria on Earth, and not on these experiments.

Whatcouldpossiblygowrong is that when you catch a cold, you might get to watch a movie for free after sneezing into your bacteria-reader.

Re:Tagged "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344970)

Wow, indeed, I hope they're properly sanitizing their strings, this could produce the mother of all code injection attacks!

I would like to back up this file with pictures of our little son, Bobby Killhost...

I can help... (2, Funny)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344822)

Every time I sit on the crapper I must be producing terrabytes of back-up storage.

File format (1)

LambdaWolf (1561517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344836)

The project is called 'Bioencryption,' and their presentation (as a PDF file) is here.

As a PDF file, as opposed to as a bacterial culture, right?

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344854)

...fixing the title with "Hong Kong Team Experiments with Wet Technology that Could Potentially Store up to 900TB of Data in 1g of E.Coli" as it says page 35 of their PDF.

Suspiciously easy (1)

Kim0 (106623) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344870)

They code 2 bits into each base pair of DNA, which is the maximum possible.
This means that some of the data will be instructions that the cell will execute.

I saw nothing of how to stop cells from executing the data.

I can't wait for the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34344896)

when I am arrested and/or sued for copyright violations when I am sick with pirated bacteria..

Good thing they gave a link to a PDF... (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344902)

Even the worst of the PDF viewers (Adobe) can be freely downloaded, but I haven't quite found a Bacteria Viewer for download yet...

iGEM teams (2, Interesting)

Uruviel (772554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344918)

Woah iGEM seems to be getting a lot of attention! This is good I think, synthetic biology is an important new field of engineering and science. In many ways I feel like the "old" AI days, the whole philosophy of "if you want to understand it, you'll have to build it" is very similar. Personally I was part of the University of Groningen team (www.igemgroningen.com) which aimed to create a hydrophobic (water repelling) biofilm coating, it could've had lots of applications if it worked but like most iGEM teams it wasn't all that successful. One of my primary objections to this project while watching the presentation is that you'll still have to sequence the genome ... a costly and time consuming activity, also the compression was a good thought but large sequences of nucleotides will inevitably start coding for RNA which could lead to a whole range of interference, unwanted proteins being the obvious one. Moreover you'll have entire colonies (millions of cells) with the same data, and little to no control between the individual differences. While I do believe in the future of organic systems as a means for data processing and storage I don't believe that treating them as digital circuits is the right way to go.

New development (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344928)

Due to recent discoveries in data storage, encryption and data security issues will henceforth be handled by the CDC.

Idea! (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344960)

"program" the bacteria to generate rainbow tables, then as they reproduce, the size of the tables will expand, meaning you get more useful data over time. Eventually, you'll be able to get a 200 char password from its MD5, even if it's made of random characters and numbers, as well as upper and lower case letters!*

*Note: the above post has a deliberately narrow view as to how Bioencryption, rainbow tables, password cracking, science, etc. works

Can we just clear something up (5, Funny)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344968)

Does "1g of bacteria" mean 1000 or 1024 milligrams?

Huh? (1)

gaderael (1081429) | more than 3 years ago | (#34344978)

What the Hell is a Bateria? It's not like Midichlorians, is it?

Reedeeculous (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345066)

Saw the ppt show. There's nothing there.

Just some very basic blather about encoding and redundancy.

Absolutely nothing new.

And AFAICT they have not done any actual DNA coding and decoding.

Perhaps they would have done everyone a service by actually estimating the time and cost of encoding/decoding 90GB.

Perhaps they left that part out as the numbers would be so dismal.

Its grammar negative bacteria. (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345118)

Explains the spelling error.

Skeptical when their links are dead (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345218)

Extraordinary claims need to have extraordinarily well working links.

DNA Mutations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345238)

One thing they didn't mention was the probability of the DNA mutating? That would change the message. These bacteria have to reproduce and copy the DNA...there should be some chance of a mutation.

typo in article title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345564)

The presentation says that 1g of E.Coli can contain 900 000gb, or 450 x 2tb hdd. That's slightly more than the 90gb in title.

Great - yet another confusing unit of measure (5, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345648)

Now we've got three meanings for GB:

1GB = 10^9
1GB = 2^30
1GB = 1 Gram Bacteria

When will the madness end!?

It's not 90 GB, it's 900 TB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345680)

The capacity of the system is 900TB in 1 g of cells, not 90 GB. Read and write are bit slow...

900TB not 90GB (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345682)

in 1g read page 35 of the pdf

Viruses!!! (1, Interesting)

cowtamer (311087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345730)

Great...

Now it'll be possible to catch human viruses from the Internet :)

(Seriously -- what would stop an attacker from crafting a message that will code for a virus if this system ever found use?).

decoding bacteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345768)

They translated ASCII into DNA coding strings and implanted those into the bacteria...I wonder have they tried to use the same decrytion method to decode current Bacteria DNA sequences into ASCII and see what they say....maybe the bacteria have been trying to talk to us all along???

Encryption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34345834)

Is it just me or is the method they describe as 'encryption' not actual encryption? What they describe in that section seems to refer more to the way they create the DNA strand in the form of [header][data][checksum]. Same with the decryption section, it refers to how they identify a full sequence for decoding. A common case of confusion between encoding and encryption? Or am I missing something?

Clearly your could encrypt the data (eg. with a block cipher/AES) in its binary form _before_ performing the binary->base pair conversion.

Big deal (1)

zakeria (1031430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34345894)

I've been storing all my porn in my sea monkey aquarium for years now!
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