This OK Go video has been stored in a DNA strand, breaking all records

Van Gogh's "Starry Night" recreated with DNA

Microsoft has managed to use DNA as storage to save a video clip, breaking the record for storage in this format.

That it is possible to use DNA to store information is not new, we already knew that in theory it could be the substitute for the hard drives and memory chips that we use today, but from theory to fact there is a stretch.

Until now scientists have had trouble storing a substantial amount of information in DNA strands, since dealing with these organic molecules is not easy, and only the reading process can take ten hours.

Why DNA is important as storage

That is why the progress that Microsoft Research has made is so important, because for the first time it has been possible to store in DNA a file like the ones we use every day; This opens the door to more advancements that allow us to use these strings to store files for a long time.

How long is it? Well it is calculated that a strand of DNA remains perfectly readable between 1,000 and 10,000 years laterWhile what you store today on your SSD may not be there in three or four months if you disconnect it.

This is why Microsoft is so interested in this type of storage, and its first steps in technology have proven fruitful; It was in April of this same year when Microsoft bought 11,000 artificial DNA molecules to experiment with them, and it has already achieved very remarkable results.

Until now, Microsoft has managed to encode the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in more than 100 languages, 100 public domain books taken from the Gutenberg Project, a seed database, and a high definition video from the video clip of This Too Shall Pass, by the group OK Go.

Microsoft prepares for the future of storage

The choice of that video was not a coincidence, they say from Microsoft Research, since they believe that this video (which features a Rube Goldberg machine) could not have been possible without the help of many people (who appear at the end of the video).

In the same way, Microsoft researchers had to receive help from many people outside the company, such as biologists and computer scientists from the University of Washington and Twist, the company from which they purchased the DNA strands. The choice of video was a kind of thanks to these people for helping them better understand DNA as storage.

Thanks to the 200 MB that the video occupied, Microsoft has broken the DNA storage record, which previously stood at 10MB.

But is it really worth the huge investment in artificial DNA strands to store so little data? Microsoft believes so, since in the future a cubic millimeter of DNA would be able to store an exabyte, about a billion terabytes; But for that, it will be necessary to improve the process of recording and reading the information. The company takes it philosophically, since it does not believe that there is a big difference compared to other storage systems that were also too expensive and complex at the beginning.

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