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Stanford Bioengineers Create Rewritable Digital Data Storage In DNA

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the prior-art dept.

Biotech 56

An anonymous reader writes "You don't hear too much about biological computing but in research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists reveal they have devised the genetic equivalent of a binary digit (full article, freely available) — a 'bit' in data parlance. 'It took us three years and 750 tries to make it work, but we finally did it,' according to Jerome Bonnet, of research which describes, a method for repeatedly encoding, storing and erasing digital data within the DNA of living cells."

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No more thumb drives to lose! (4, Funny)

constpointertoconst (1979236) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090543)

Sweet. This means I no longer have to worry about losing my thumb drive - I'd just plug myself in!

Now, where should I put the pr0n folder...

If you don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40090625)

we sure won't help you! (we wouldn't even if you did know!)

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090861)

Reminds me of that Klingon from the exchange program smuggling data.. er... sensitive information off the Enterprise.

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090941)

what kind of DRM do i have to install...

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091903)

I was thinking of the same episode. It's weird how we've surpassed almost all of the science fiction of my youth, let alone that written before I was born. [baen.com] In 1966 everything in Star Trek was pure fantasy -- doors that opened all by themselves, space shuttles, talking voice-activated computers with flat screens, communicators, McCoy's sick bay (you kids can't imagine how primitive medicine was in 1966), Uhura's bluetooth earpiece... all fantasy that nobody ever expected to actually see in their lifetimes. Yet the only things from STOS we don't have today is matter replicators and warp drives.

I live in the science fiction future of my youth!

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092087)

We do have the MakerBot and other additive manufacturing. Granted for solids it only makes objects out of meltable materials: Plastic, metal, gelatin, wax, chocolate.

No progress on that Warp drive though.

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092631)

"Yet the only things from STOS we don't have today is matter replicators and warp drives." .... and instant transport tech. , particle weapons (that actually work), stun rays, force field/shielding tech., instant skin+bone healing tech., cloaking technology.....
Are you sure you remember this stuff ??

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092723)

"Yet the only things from STOS we don't have today is matter replicators and warp drives." .... and instant transport tech. , particle weapons (that actually work), stun rays, force field/shielding tech., instant skin+bone healing tech., cloaking technology.....

Where are my transporter beams? Artificial gravity? Moneyless society? And blue and green ladies in spandex miniskirts...?

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40094929)

Did they ever debunk the 2001 setup where you just rotate everything constantly or is that an engineering problem?

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40094975)

sorry I was talking about artifical gravity.

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40108353)

Forget all that, think about the possibilities of inherited genetic memory! Imagine being born with the knowledge of a PhD in ten different fields and being able to speak fifty languages. All we'd need is a way to access the information stored in the DNA. This may in fact become essential as the amount of time it takes to gain mastery in a field exceeds the human lifespan, as it eventually will. And each new generation could be upgraded with the achievements of the last, the technological and cultural advancements of the human race would be accelerated immensely.

The darker side of course is implanted genetic propaganda, brainwashed from birth and unable to ever break the cycle, human robots. Thats slightly different though since its not knowledge but rather behaviour.

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40108411)

... but why? You'd still not land the blue and green ladies in spandex miniskirts.

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40091665)

Gives new meaning to the term "thumb drive"

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092019)

Just make sure to protect it; you wouldn't want to get a virus....

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092355)

Now, where should I put the pr0n folder...

Most people put it into the Y folder of their 23rd chromosome pair. You know, porn being mostly (though not completely) the guy thing.

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092473)

Now, where should I put the pr0n folder...

Elastic Storage!

Re:No more thumb drives to lose! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40094759)

Gee Bob! Are you glad to see me or is that an EXIF in your pants? BTW, what's that spreadsheet growing on your forehead?

Wil F. Wheaton* (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40090545)

THE FUTURE I AM IN YOU!

*I know his middle initial isn't F. I was once somewhere at sometime that Mr. Wheaton happened to be and this guy nearby said, "Holy shit! That's Wil Fucking Wheaton!" Ever since he has been Wil F. Wheaton to me.

Digital storage? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40090627)

I RTFA'ed about 3 times. I'm a biologist. I don't get it. It's much more interesting from a biological perspective than a digital media perspective, where it is functionally useless. You're never going to see a "cell drive" in computers. And copying data (by cell division) can take hours.

Re:Digital storage? (2, Interesting)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090705)

I also RTFA'ed a few times, and so far, all I can demise is that we're screwed. Skynet wins. But then again, I Am Not A Biologist. (IANAB).

Hawking said this would happen, btw.

Re:Digital storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093019)

nor a linguist. you mean "surmise"...

Any word on effects (1)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090647)

Placing pieces of data in DNA /must/ affect the creature. Any word on localizing or minimizing those effects?

Re:Any word on effects (3, Insightful)

LordNicholas (2174126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090733)

Not if they're non-coding strings of DNA that aren't involved with gene expression.

Re:Any word on effects (3, Funny)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091649)

Yeah, but what's the fun in that?

Re:Any word on effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40094783)

What would the result of a format be? Not to mention partitioning...

Re:Any word on effects (1)

bityz (2011656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091927)

The bit they are triggering is responsible for changing the color of fluorescence. From TFA:

They used RAD to modify a particular section of DNA within microbes that determines how the one-celled organisms will fluoresce under ultraviolet light. The microbes glow red or green depending upon the orientation of the section of DNA.

Pfft... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40090661)

...Johnny Mnemonic was doing that 20 years ago...

Re:Pfft... (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090963)

haha i had the same thought

Oh, so that's what it is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40090663)

I always wondered what a "bit" was. I'm glad the summary was able to explain the "digital parlance" to me....

Johnny Mnemonic (1)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090739)

So, when do I start getting paid to carry people's data around in my head?

Re:Johnny Mnemonic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40091307)

So, when do I start getting paid to carry people's data around in my head?

As soon as you land a job and move out of your parents' basement.

The last piece! (1)

FreedomOfThought (2544248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40090895)

Finally! I can make my Artificial Intelligence algorithms into a living thing!

Finally! (2)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091039)

I can backup my BDs in my urine and feces!

2fer on viruses (5, Insightful)

CoderFool (1366191) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091193)

This digital data storage could get both technological and biological viruses! I wonder what the crossover will be like... You thought bird flu jumping to pigs then humans was bad....

Re:2fer on viruses (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40096077)

This digital data storage could get both technological and biological viruses! I wonder what the crossover will be like... You thought bird flu jumping to pigs then humans was bad....

Yeah I know, the Symantec stock just jumped like giddy old mare.

Kilroy 2.0 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40091215)

is Everywhere!
John Alpha already used this technology!!

So what does that mean for our 'junk' DNA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40091321)

So what if this has been done before already?

From this article:
http://www.psrast.org/junkdna.htm

More than 98 percent of all DNA, was called "Junk DNA" by molecular biologists, because they were unable to ascribe any function to it. They assumed that it was just "molecular garbage". If it were "junk", the sequence of the "syllables", i.e. the nucleotides in DNA should be completely random.

However it has been found that the sequence of the syllables is not random at all and has a striking resemblance with the structure of human language (ref. Flam, F. "Hints of a language in junk DNA", Science 266:1320, 1994, see quote below). Therefore, scientists now generally believe that this DNA must contain some kind of coded information. But the code and its function is yet completely unknown.

Re:So what does that mean for our 'junk' DNA? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091363)

Assuming that "junk dna" would be random is like assuming that the junk mail in my bin is just random letters of the alphabet.

Re:So what does that mean for our 'junk' DNA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40091823)

The analogy is bad. Junk mail is written by an intelligent person. If "junk dna" is truly junk DNA, with no evolutionary advantage or disadvantage, I'd expect random mutations to make it random DNA over time. this presuposes that it is truly not impacting evolutionary success one way or another and a long time period. But it is what I'd expect.

Copyright infringment! (1)

bityz (2011656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091385)

From the article

Bonnet has now tested RAD modules in single microbes that have doubled more than 100 times and the switch has held. He has likewise switched the latch and watched a cell double 90 times, and set it back. The latch will even store information when the enzymes are not present. In short, RAD works. It is reliable and it is rewritable.

When the microbes double, the bit is copied. Just wait until the RIAA finds out!

Slowest data storage ever (1)

Latinhypercube (935707) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091445)

And it only takes a week to write 8 bits of data

Re:Slowest data storage ever (1)

bityz (2011656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091877)

According to TFA, this is a single reliable bit.

So far they can only write one bit eight times.

Re:Slowest data storage ever (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092051)

Yes... but then all they need is another microbe where they can't write that bit. String them together to get your storage. Replicate ad nauseam....

Re:Slowest data storage ever (1)

bityz (2011656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092349)

true, now we just need a way to order the microbes

Bandwidth (2)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091619)

a 'bit' in data parlance. 'It took us three years and 750 tries to make it work, but we finally did it'

There, and I thought my ISP's bandwitdh was awful.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40091729)

I feel that this is the first step towards integrating with the Zerg Hive.

Rush! Kekekekekekekekekekekeke.

Blood Music (3, Interesting)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 2 years ago | (#40091731)

This reminds me of a fantastic book called Blood Music by the science fiction author Greg Bear. In the book a geneticist working on biochip development develops a system for storing and transmitting information between single cells using DNA and RNA. He creates cells that are able to communicate and incorporate elements of RNA and as such optimise themselves to overcome environmental challenges. He soon sees the emergence of rudimentary intelligence on a cellular basis, but is shut down before he can pursue his experiments further. He smuggles his creations out of the lab by injecting them into his own body, which proves to be a perfect environment for the development of full intelligence....

Re:Blood Music (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092375)

erm... sci-fi? Ever heard of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacterial_conjugation as an example of horizontal transfer of genetic information? It's real and it's one of the reason we have major trouble with resistent super bacteriae like O/MRSA and VRE.

Re:Blood Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40099161)

The one of the broadest definitions of 'science fiction' is 'fiction with science as the subject'.

The sciencey bits don't have to be perfectly fictional. It's okay.

Star Trek NG (2)

nickmalthus (972450) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093899)

This article reminds me of the STNG episode "The Chase" [wikipedia.org]

Stargate Goa'uld (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092031)

Demonstration of genetic memory concept of the Goa'uld from Stargate?

Neat (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092095)

So how long before we get a driver that can turn this data into biological functions? Say, over-riding the optical and aural sensors on demand.
I want to be able to rickroll my grandchildren. DAILY.

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092229)

Maybe they could bio engineer a smart slash dot poster, one that doesn't have to put their politics into everything. One that doesn't bash the US every chance they get and think its funny saying things like faux news, like every news site is honest in America isn't hell bent on some agenda? One that doesn't constantly bash capitalism while collecting a check made from profits. Or maybe one who stops comparing the Tea party to nut cases while holding up OWNS as non criminals. Hell even a smart one who doesn't believe in the great Global Warming religious scandal lie?

Re:interesting (1)

xevioso (598654) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093937)

Except that all those things are true.

Does this mean I need to buy the Beatles again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093709)

Damn it.

Great ... for illegal pissers! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40097825)

Pissing in a cup will show traces of illegal content usage!

Those downloading movies and music in their DNA, think twice ..

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