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DNA For Information Processing and Data Storage

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the but-how-many-mp3s-can-it-store dept.

Data Storage 234

Haydn Fenton writes "Here is an article on using DNA for data storage and even information processing. From the article, "The DNA molecule - nature's premier data storage material - may hold the key for the information technology industry as it faces demands for more compact data processing and storage circuitry. A team led by Richard Kiehl, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota, has used DNA's ability to assemble itself into predetermined patterns to construct a synthetic DNA scaffolding with regular, closely spaced docking sites that can direct the assembly of circuits for processing or storing data.""

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234 comments

w00t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139838)

First post!

First! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139844)

First

DNA and computing? (0)

cmburns69 (169686) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139845)

Gives a new meaning to the term "Genetic Programming".

Ba-dum ching!

Re:DNA and computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139890)

Dude, that wasn't even a groaner, it's just sad.

Re:DNA and computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139909)

Your post gives new meaning to purpose life, I'm about to jump of a bridge.

Re:DNA and computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140042)

And your post gives new meaning to the word grammar... no, really! ... I hope I clicked the Post Anonymously button.

hmm (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139853)

interesting concept

hmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140160)

> interesting concept

interesting post

ha (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139854)

i hope the feds don't find any copyrighted material stored in my DNA...

Re:ha (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139869)

Oh, they will... You can expect a letter from my lawyer.

Re:ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140205)

I'll send you a sample of my DNA in the mail so you can compare.

Cheaters Paradise? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139856)

If you could really store info in your DNA, wouldn't it be impossible for proctors to stop cheating on exams? I mean seriously... when you register for university you will have to have a full blown DNA scan. Then they will have to force students to walk through metal-detector-type-DNA-scanners just to make sure that the DNA you come to the exam with is the same DNA you registered with. And then trolls could mess with you by resequencing your DNA when you pass out at parties. *sigh* More evidence of the complications of technology, although the future is always interesting to see unfold -- mostly like watching a car accident!

Re:Cheaters Paradise? (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139944)

Just because the information is in my body somewhere doesn't mean I can access it during an exam. Otherwise I'd have gotten perfect scores on every exam. My point is that you just need to prohibit DNA reader devices, then all the DNA cheat sheets in the world won't help you any more than all the Spanish I've learned helped me during the exams...

It works on so many levels (5, Informative)

antimatt (782015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139873)

And another thing: chemically, DNA is almost heroically unchanging. It is among the most unreactive, inert molecules in the biological world. That means data integrity, a Good Thing.

DNA heroically unchanging (2, Informative)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139978)

... chemically, DNA is almost heroically unchanging. It is among the most unreactive, inert molecules in the biological world. That means data integrity, a Good Thing.

Good point.

When DNA does go bad, typically what happens is that the telomeres [nih.gov] wear out, leading to cell death.

-kgj

Re:DNA heroically unchanging (4, Informative)

InternationalCow (681980) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140082)

Good point indeed but you misunderstood. DNA inside the cell IS changing all of the time although changes to its chemistry are being repaired all the time. Telomere change is something else, that happens at cell division. Higher-order structure, like folding, also changes. What the parent meant is that DNA, when taken out of the cell, is very very stable with most of its primary and secondary structure remaining intact over a long long time (see extraction from Neanderthal bones). However, the point of using DNA as a scaffold for the assembly of information is not in its stability per se. It's in its ability, per its repetitive structure with lots of nice modifiable side chains available, to direct assembly of other molecules. This is what is meant, methinks.

Re:DNA heroically unchanging (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140306)

However, the point of using DNA as a scaffold for the assembly of information is not in its stability per se. It's in its ability, per its repetitive structure with lots of nice modifiable side chains available, to direct assembly of other molecules.

Thanks for the clarification.

-kgj

DNA does not clone perfectly (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139998)

While it is self-repairing, changes do occur from time to time during cell division, introducing errors.

A 100th-generation copy of your favorite MP3 may sound as bad as a 100th-generation analog copy. Maybe not quite that bad, but the md5's won't match.

Re:DNA does not clone perfectly (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140363)

Umm, it would be exact because the algorithm to copy would be:

copy(file1, file2)
while (md5 of file1 != md5 of file2) { try again }

You should be verifying your backups no matter what the storage medium is.

DNA is AFAIK, much more "stable" than photoreactive dyes or magnetic films. Crocodiles have had the same DNA for billions of years, how long will your CD-R last?

Re:It works on so many levels (1)

tijnbraun (226978) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140036)

On the otherhand the world is filled with enzymes called DNase that will willingly eat your TB DNA storage in no time.

Siliconase however does not exist.

Re:It works on so many levels (2, Funny)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140098)

Mayonnaise, however, does. And it goes great with chips!

D'oh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140065)

That means data integrity, a Good Thing.

So MySQL won't support it, then---but you can do it in the application layer.

Re:It works on so many levels (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140117)

See here. [slashdot.org] The data aren't being stored in the DNA, they're being stored in a magnetic layer on top of the DNA. The DNA sequence just drives the granularity of the magnetic layer. (To be precise, all this should be expressed in the future tense but I don't feel like backteracking...)

And it's really fun to make backups.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140132)

Sex as a backup device!!!! That's way cooler than tape drives.

Re:It works on so many levels (2, Interesting)

cafn8ed (264155) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140166)

Disclaimer: IANA[Molecular Biochemist/Geneticist]

I'm not so certain that's something to brag about in this case. DNA may be stable, but DNA replication is not always reliable and accurate. Genetic mutations are common - they are the result of random errors in the replication process. Some organisms have turned really rotten replication accuracy into an advantage (e.g. HIV, which mutates so fast that it has demonstrated an amazing ability to survive everything science has thrown at it). Other organisms do a better job, but never perfectly, as far as I know.

I'm utterly certain the scientists involved know more about DNA than I ever will, so surely they've considered this. I merely wanted to point out that, there are many really cool things that DNA can do, 100% copy accuracy is not one of them.

Re:It works on so many levels (1)

tijnbraun (226978) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140302)

Well I quite certain they will not use 1 dna strand to store the data... they will use lots. See it as RAID but then with really cheap disks... and millions of them. As long there is no heavy selection on the replication (there is a bit of selection: AT bonds only have 2 H-bonds while CG has 3), it should be very accurate.

btw HIV is RNA (retro) virus

Viruses (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140170)

So the equivalent of a SQL, insert field command, will be a retro-virus? Will my database be down...with a cold?

TROLL !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140259)

This is such bullshit people.
The comments going on around here with "+5 informatives" are just amazing.

WTF, people!

Re:TROLL !!! (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140323)

a. It's not trolling, possibly misinformed and:
b. It's actually right. If you wish to be a molecular biologist, post with a name so you have some actual respect.

Eww (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139877)

> DNA For Information Processing and Data Storage

/.'s who masturbate near their computers need to stop. Bad aiming could corrupt your hard drive!

640K DNA molecules... (2, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139887)

ought to be good enough for anybody.

-GillBates0.

But Office is bigger than your DNA. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140025)

I doubt Gates said this, considering that Microsoft Office is bigger than your entire genome [blogspot.com]

Either Human DNA is programmed very well, or Office is programmed very poorly.

Obligatory North Korea belong to us reply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140046)

Only Old North Koreans have unchanging DNA.

All your deoxy-ibonucleic acid "r" belong to us.

Mod -2 doubly offtopic

Re:Obligatory North Korea belong to us reply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140268)

In China, unchanging DNA is always positive

Re:640K DNA molecules... (1)

alecks (473298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140159)

or any body.... get it?

So how long... (5, Interesting)

JossiRossi (840900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139889)

How long until Religious Nuts start claiming to see hidden messages encoded in our DNA telling us to love Jesus?
Or
How long until spies pass messages along in the form of biological matter by sneezing into a tissue?
Or
How long until we can buy books in readable vials full of liquid?

The possibilites are endless and cool but of course it will probably just be used to sell us Coca Cola... so much wasted potential.

Re:So how long... (5, Funny)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139972)

How long until Religious Nuts start claiming to see hidden messages encoded in our DNA telling us to love Jesus?

Each DNA strand is a number. Like the Hebrew A, Alef is 1. B, Bet is 2. You understand? But look at this. The strands are inter-related. Like take the Hebrew word for father, 'Ab' - Alef Bet... 1, 2 equals 3. Alright? Hebrew word for mother, 'em' - Alef Mem... 1, 40 equals 41. Sum of 3 and 41... 44. Alright? Now, Hebrew word for child, alright, mother... father... child, 'Yeled' - that's 10, 30, and 4... 44

Re:So how long... (1)

JossiRossi (840900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140007)

9:32 Restate My Assumptions.

Been too long since I've seen Pi =) So the 3 word quote I gave is probably wrong.

Re:So how long... (1)

Flashbck (739237) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140279)

If I had mod points you would be getting a few funny modifiers.

Oh and I watched Pi about a month ago and your quote is right on!

Re:So how long... (1)

roseblood (631824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140016)

Or
How long until someone injects this crap into themselves and brings about the end of the world?
[cough]Darwins Radio[/cough]

How do you use here w/o the damned site censoring out the funny fake HTML tags.

Re:So how long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140093)

How long until Religious Nuts start claiming to see hidden messages encoded in our DNA telling us to love Jesus?

Already exists... The Amygdala [google.com] is the structure in the brain that helps people appreciate religions and other supernatural phenomena.

Whats the seek time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139893)

It varies from person to person.

Convert me now! (1)

Byzandula (83077) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139898)

I'll take a 5TB kidney and a 9TB heart please. Oh and while you are at it, staple my stomach and squeeze all of the storage you can from the excess. I'm sure you'll get a decent amount.

Re:Convert me now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140304)

yeah, cuz you're fat

RE: Data Integrity? (1)

Locdonan (804414) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139900)

Cell Phone Damage [wired.com]

Hmmm

The things people doubt (1, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139904)

I remember hearing about this originally nearly 10 years ago now. I remember bringing it up in a discussion on Usenet, engendering many "It will never happen" trolls...still seems a few years off though from consumer product?

Re:The things people doubt (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139969)

This has (essentially) nothing to do with older ideas of storing data in DNA sequences. The DNA is being used here as a scaffold to lay down a particularly dense array of unformatted storage material.

Re:The things people doubt (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140139)

Oh, ok- so more like nanotechnology than actual biomatter data storage. The only data being stored in the DNA itself is the PATTERN of the storage material- which in turn stores the data AFTER the DNA has been wiped away.

SCO and DNA (4, Funny)

lordsilence (682367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139911)

Just wait till SCO find infringing code in YOUR DNA..

Re:SCO and DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139949)

Every geek got a linux kernel compiled in their brain, right?

Hi-Tech & Stylish... (1)

YodaToo (776221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139921)

DNA "tiles" that spontaneously assemble in a predetermined pattern to form a sheet of molecular fabric, much like corduroy.

This is such bullshit. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139930)

We keep hearing about DNA based computer storage but making this practical is just nonsense. Researchers looking at this are wasting their time. Other, more reliable methods will forever remain faster and cheaper.

Re:This is such bullshit. (1)

Bucky_the_AV_Guy (806881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140294)

Well, it may not work in a typical computer type situation - we'll probably not be playing Doom9 on a DNA computer but there are other applications where it could come in handy.

The researchers spending their time on this are looking at the challenges and possibilities. Think beyond the confines of typical computing. For one, DNA based computing and storage would allow for base4 computing. This could be interesting. How about creating DNA based "computers" that could actually be administered as pharmaceuticals.

Another, albeit very far reaching possibility is that you could create computers that actually increase or decrease their processor power as necessary through coordinated regulation of duplication of the DNA. Realistically, I think we can look at DNA computers as the first step to artificial cells which could be of considerable benefit.

Proof !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140350)

See. All you talk about is bullshit.

DNA would allow for bas4 computer

We can already do it in silicon.

Administering computers as pharmecutical

(rolls eyes) WTF? What are you smoking?

first step in artificial cells
They've already created "artificial cells" and the computer data storage potential of DNA has nothing to do with it.

Slow Posting (5, Funny)

ClownsScareMe (840001) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139931)

Could people be *gasp* reading the article?

Re:Slow Posting (1)

cflorio (604840) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140067)

No, my guess they are all Christmas Shopping... Probably at a website, there's no way the average /. reader is going to go to a mall.

Re:Slow Posting (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140154)

You must be new here...

base 5 computing? (1, Insightful)

Chillybott (835894) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139937)

seems to me that this would be the big benefit, that rather than base 2 for data storage, you could use base 5, with each slot value as 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 based on having no protien, a, g, t, or c in the "slot" - giving a larger number of values (and therefpre addresses) per slot

(base 5, would the 'slots' be called "quints" - not sure)

I would wonder - though, how quickly data transfer would really be....cell replication takes awhile because the DNA splicing takes a long time, right?

Re:base 5 computing? (1)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140014)

Your post shows a complete lack of understanding of DNA completely. Please don't post about this again.

Re:base 5 computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140222)

(whoa, the guy you're responding to if +5 insightful material around here)

Re:base 5 computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140060)

Oooh... I can do one better... or base 6, if you put something else that won't fit in that slot!!!


(ps... every try to make a DNA molicule with "no protien" in the slots?)

Re:base 5 computing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140152)

Right, except you mean base 4: it's either A, C, T or G (proteins and peptides come in someplace else; look it up).

They're quaternary digits -- "quits"?

So each base maps tidily to two bits, and the three billion base human genome can be stored uncompressed as six billion bits. Or, put another way, it stores six billion bits.

Re:base 5 computing? (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140319)

wow this makes me shiver when I read it.

1. it's spelled protein.
2. It can only be a, c, g, t in dna
3. those aren't proteins they are bases
4. Proteins are coded by dna, they do not comprise dna in any way.
5. Dna doesn't get spliced during cell replication. It gets copied.
6. therefpre isn't a word.

Nasty unforeseen consequence (4, Funny)

borroff (267566) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139940)

Unfortunately, when the tune "Jingle Bells" is coded in DNA for storage, it turns out to be a version of the flu...

Re:Nasty unforeseen consequence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140094)

Fuck. When they incode "The Rockin Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu" it will be Capt Tripps time.

Re:Nasty unforeseen consequence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140127)

Parent comment isn't funny, but the closest criteria would be funny (but it's not). What *is* funny is that it got modded informative, so perhaps it should now be modded funny, for being so hilariously modded, but with a funny mod it will seize to be funny, and should no longer be modded funny, perhaps a informative mod would then suffice, given the moderation is such.

Re:Nasty unforeseen consequence (1)

SsShane (754647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140181)

insert into dna_Widgets values (*COUGH....AHHCHOOOBLEHHHH!!!);

>>BLESS YOU

Re:Nasty unforeseen consequence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140214)

I'm more concerned that my MP3 collection would get flu. Talk about your computer getting a virus...

Re:Nasty unforeseen consequence (2, Funny)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140264)

You think that's bad? Encoding a Britney Spears album produced Ebola, Rift Valley fever, four Marburg variants and the freakin Andromeda Strain.

What are the possibilities? (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139952)

The article states that this technology could be used to allow for faster recognition technologies, but can this be used to create a computer in the more typical sense?

I find this to be an extremely interesting and inventive process, but from the article I can't really decide if it has, or ever will have the ability to make something that isn't just a repeated pattern. Does anyone else know a little more about this technology?

If Euro rejects software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139955)

It seems unlikely this week, but if Europe does the right thing and rejects software patents, will software vendors sneak in under the cloak of patented DNA?

OK, seriously, software-patents-as-dna-patents probably won't be a problem for the next few years, but as soon as "DNA data storage" its mainstream, it will be a big issue.

Can DNA be copyrighted? Can it be trademarked?

Already see problems. (2, Funny)

RedA$$edMonkey (688732) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139973)

Damn, now where did I put that strand of DNA with all my pr0n.

DNA? (0, Offtopic)

IzeroP (785934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139996)

I thought DNA was made out of M&M's?

DNA versus the Elecron (2, Interesting)

Piewalker (777952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140031)

DNA is just a biologic/chemical process of storing info. The smallest bit of information you could reach has already been hypothesized to be an electron...polarize it one way and make it positive (one) and the opposite (zero). Last time I checked electrons are smaller than DNA. But could we go smaller? Quarks? Neutrinos? Photons?...as the smallest components of information?

Re:DNA versus the Elecron (1)

liangzai (837960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140293)

Can't go smaller. Quarks are bound in pairs or triplets, unless a tremendous amount of energy is released to overcome the strong force that glue quarks together. It is meaningless trying to communicate with a single quark.

Neutrinos interact extremely weakly with other matter particles, and only rarely is there a "collision" that causes a reaction. This is why it takes a year to detect a neutrino hit in tons of water buried deep underground. Furthermore, neutrions can't be contained like an electron.

Photons carry information, but they need a trigger, like electrons. Photons have the awkward feature of traveling at the speed of light, and so cannot be contained for more than a few picoseconds.

Now there is of course the possibility of entangled photon pairs http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/00092 6071220.htm [sciencedaily.com] , but this is still mostly theoretical stuff.

Instend of exchanging data w/USB devices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140032)

...you'll just shoot your load into the floppy slot.

Make your own at home (1)

ksaylor (116004) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140037)

Wow, it looks all you need is some velcro and corduroy pants...

DNA plus Information Processing equals... (2, Funny)

amstrad (60839) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140050)

...Eddie, your super friendly shipboard computer.

Security... (1)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140074)

I wonder if people are gonna start sequencing genomes to break security protocals now... Seriously, what would the encryption be like on this.

I, Jedi (1)

silvergoose (807387) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140076)

In the I, Jedi book, there was a reference to this type of technology, wherein someone would sequence flowers with DNA that contained encryption keys to a set of data stored elsewhere. Very useful for blackmail. Seriously, though, if we're approaching SW technology, I'm happy. When're the hyperdrives and usable ion drives coming?

Just Imagine.... (1)

Bucky_the_AV_Guy (806881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140081)

no more electronic viruses. Now we can have the real thing.

Not only does your computer get infected....so do you!.

Performance Limits on Chemical Computation (5, Informative)

tjic (530860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140083)

For those interested in such things, a friend wrote his PhD thesis on defining the limits of achievable DNA computation:

Performance Limits on Chemical Computation [dyndns.org] .

Data Mutation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140106)

Hmm, Given that DNA is highly unreactive what do you tell your boss when it does react and mutate? And what kind of readers will you be useing to "read" the data? Bio-chemical? Mechanical? If its bio-chemical imagine the possibilities...

"hey boss the server is down with cancer right now..."
"Hey boss the server is trying to grow legs what do you want to do?..."
"Hey boss the server that we were having problems with just ate a rat... and is purring... George wants to take it home for the night. What say you?"

Wont take off (1)

wizardNinja (835459) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140108)

I think This technology wont take off too well... Way too small - "Oh, nuts..I dropped my Unreal 2008 DNA vial..There it goes spewing all over the floor" Or maybe..."Oh no..the cat, it ate my DNA processor!"

linux on the brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11140109)

Can I get my brain to boot linux?

(another lame response)

USB Time (1)

jedkiwi (825683) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140142)

Well then, if all said is true, then I somehow must find a way to hook a USB 2.0 port into my body! Now, if I put the power wires here, and the data wires here...

Great, unles... (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140147)

Yeah, sounds great until you mix the DNA with human and make ComputerMan!

An extra "h"? (1)

carcass (115042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140171)

Heh heh heh. Richard Kiehl. DNA.

Am I the only one who thought of the MST3k episode where they did "The Human Duplicators?"

I would prefer to use RNA (3, Funny)

dfn5 (524972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140190)

Sure, go ahead and use DNA, if you want your data to mutate.
I will use RNA (Raided Nucleic Acid) instead.

interdimensionall (1)

alecks (473298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140195)

Science hasn't discovered this and it still thinks that over 97% of DNA is 'junk'. Problem with DNA storage is that 10 out of the 12 layers (or 24, depending on how you look at it) are interdimensional and still unobservable to our consciousness (not to mention instruments).

Re:interdimensionall (1)

NarrMaster (760073) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140331)

What the hell are you talking about? If this is an elaborate joke that I don't get, please, fill me in.

Live Sex on DNA spirals (1)

bennyp (809286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140210)

What will happen when the internet's vast archive of midget porn and snuff films gets stored on DNA strands? Reminds me of that movie with Will Wheaton - Mr. Stitch.

Carl Sagan pointed out in Dragons of Eden (4, Interesting)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140218)

[late 70s] that DNA was the only persistent data storage media nature had until we apes invented languages that we could symbolically preserve. All that has essentially progressed, and what has been changing rapidly with advances in biotech, is the speed of data access into DNA. 5 yeas ago, the best guess [and the big money of govt and industry] was that it would take us 10 years to transcribe the human genome...and now thats already done. We are getting faster even faster than we expected. [that technological acceleration could be partly attributed to the open exchange of techniques and discovered sequences that the consortium of biochemists had agreed upon at the outset of the project...kind of like developing products in open source]
When that data access speeds up another 8 or 10 orders of magnitude and is both R and W,[and not much sooner!] we can talk about DNA as if it were magnetic media and seriously talk about its applications...Makes you wonder if the lessons of open source are going to have to be rediscoverd as we further exploit what software engineering has to teach us about handling DNA.

Human Computer (1)

Dash'n'SlashDot (841636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140226)

OK. Say this technology is applied to create a portable system injected into your body and kept functioning off your own metabolism. My guess is you implant a keyboard in your arm, but what oriface would they use to plug in the monitor~

Re:Human Computer (1)

Dash'n'SlashDot (841636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140292)

As a side thought, the keyboard implant in the arm would work, since most of us are surely adept at typing one-handed *cough*

DNA computers (4, Interesting)

wronski (821189) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140228)

There has been some discussion about using DNA as a massively parallel computer. Suppose you encode data in a DNA sequence (input), then somehow act on it (running a program), and then read the resulting altered DNA. You have a computer, albeit somewhat slow and not terribly practical. Now imagine you start with not one but *billions* of different DNA sequences.You "run" the program over all these inputs simultaneously, and obtain billions of possible outputs. You can then use some chemical tag that binds itself to the 'correct' answer. You now have a massively parallel computer with negligible power consumption in a test tube.

This sort of DNA computer could be useful for a number of problems that involve a lot of trial and error, such as protein folding. In a paper some years ago some scientist managed to solve a traveling salesman problem using one such computer. They generated different strands corresponding to each city, and let them mix in a tube randomly to produce different candidate 'paths'. Then, they used some chemical selector (the tricky part) to eliminate the strands corresponding to invalid paths. Left in the tube were all valid paths, which could then be easily replicated using PCR.

I couldn't find the original paper, but a pretty good explanation can be found here [howstuffworks.com]

I can just hear it now... (3, Funny)

Bhasin_N (838449) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140254)

"In Breaking news, a minor short circuit has caused a freak mutation at Genetic Information Inc. causing all the chips to asexually reproduce and take over the coffe machines"

If this becomes widespread... (1)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140289)

Everyone will have to have DNA replicators in order to copy files. This means the cheap production of in home laboratories capable of producing, modifying, and duplicating DNA strands...

I find it... disconcerting.

With a name like "Seeman" (0, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140291)

As America's original "Melting Pot", NYC has always been a hotbed of cutting-edge DNA research. Dr. Seeman's NYU lab leads the world in the other kind of DNA chemistry, that doesn't rely on COOH in the bars and clubs of Greenwich Village. Ever since Dr. Seeman taught me in college to see stereoscopic molecular images by going crosseyed, his work has been messing with my mind, and making my longest molecules even more interesting. If you want a part of the info revolution of the millennium, forget California and Germany - NYC is the future, where it all comes together.

Been done in Star Trek (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 9 years ago | (#11140356)

Art imitating life: In ST:TNG a Klingon was found to be stealing secrets by reading information off some chips. The raw data was encoded into inert DNA chains and eventually injected into a person. In effect anyone could become a roaming hard drive and not even know it.
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