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DNA stores poems, a photo and a speech

Scientists store and then retrieve 750 kilobytes of data in DNA

Big data could soon be stored in a very small package: DNA. A team of scientists has demonstrated that storing information in synthetic DNA could represent a feasible approach to managing data in the long term, bumping aside the magnetic tape favored by archivists today.

The approach, published online January 23 in Nature, relies on technologies that are likely to become faster and cheaper, says biologist and engineer Drew Endy of Stanford University, who was not involved in the work.

Unlike record players, which are good only for playing music encoded on now-obsolete vinyl discs, machines that make and read DNA find uses throughout science and always will. “Human beings are never going to stop caring about DNA,” says Endy. DNA is also compact, lightweight, and can potentially remain intact for thousands of years if stored in a dark, cool environment.

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