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  1.    23 Sep 2016 #1
    Join Date : Oct 2013
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    Why the future of storage is all about DNA


    DNA is so flexible that it can be used to create everything from an amoeba to a human, a dinosaur to a dandelion. And it's so small that the DNA needed to create all these life forms can be fitted into a single cell just micrometers large.

    And while DNA has existed for billions of years as a way of storing the blueprints for life, now researchers are beginning to explore its potential as a storage medium for digital data.

    Some of tech's biggest names are already looking into DNA's potential for long-term data storage. Microsoft, for example, earlier this year announced it had worked with the University of Washington (UW) to store and retrieve 200MB of data -- including a song by OK Go! and the Declaration of Human Rights -- on DNA.

    "We got to thinking that there's a trend in storage -- storage media is not growing the way we want it to. We know DNA is a very dense storage medium, and we know it has other properties that make it very interesting, like durability, and we go to this question of we should look at this as a potential storage medium," James Bornholt, a graduate student working on DNA storage in the department of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, told ZDNet.

    As you'd expect for a storage medium found in cells so small that can't be seen with the naked eye, DNA offers one major advantage over conventional tape or SSD storage: density. According to Washington University researchers, if DNA was its storage medium, all the data found in Facebook's recently-built Oregon cold storage datacenter could be fitted into the space of a sugar cube.

    Another advantage: DNA is pretty much the oldest known storage medium there is. For those that have the algorithms to decode it, it can be read thousands of years after its creation if it's stored in the right way.

    Built of four units -- adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine -- that are linked to each other by hydrogen bonds and branch from a sugar-phosphate backbone, DNA is deceptively simple. But, by reading the way in which one base follows another, scientists have already begun to encode and decode information in much the same way as conventional computer storage uses a sequence of ones and zeroes.

    With DNA being a base four system and binary base two, encoding digital data in DNA is relatively simple -- the zeros and ones are translated into cytosine, thymine, guanine, or adenine...


    Read more: From digital to biological: Why the future of storage is all about DNA | ZDNet
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  2.    24 Sep 2016 #2
    Join Date : Jun 2015
    UK
    Posts : 1,900
    Windows 10 Home x64 (Laptop), Windows 10 Pro x64 (Desktop)

    So who is now working on biological computer viruses to change / corrupt computer storage DNA?
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  3.    24 Sep 2016 #3
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Portsmouth Hampshire
    Posts : 1,800
    Windows 10 x86 14383 Insider Pro and Core 10240

    I don't know who - but natural viruses which may change or corrupt natural DNA (and thus any DNA you could synthesise) have been around probably since DNA first assembled into self-reproducing pre-biotic units, over 2.5 billion years ago - and these natural viruses are very good at producing variants which attach to, attack and reproduce the natural sources of DNA they parasitise.

    If in our wisdom, we produce a DNA variant that has computationally useful data encoded on it, some natural DNA modification process will probably eventually come along and change it to something more biologically useful (Darwinistic principle) thus corrupting the data.

    It's not making the stuff that's hard, we've been doing that in the lab since the 1970s, it's protecting it from hungry little bugs who will use it as food. Oh, yes, and from radiation, and radioactive decay of the component biochemicals which zap and break the double helix.

    Our bodies contain 2 copies of our DNA in each cell of our bodies, so that's a massive redundancy required - not for mission critical data - stick to physics rather than biology for permanency.
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  4.    25 Sep 2016 #4
    Join Date : Mar 2015
    New Mexico
    Posts : 1,313
    Windows 10 Pro,

    I think that you are wrong. I have studied microbiology and although we are talking a mere 2.5 billion years since the introduction of DNA into Earth's biosphere, many scientists and metaphysicians believe that there was actually a period of approx. 3 weeks in which DNA existed in a virus free environment. It wasn't instantaneously as you seem to suggest.
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  5.    25 Sep 2016 #5
    Join Date : Jun 2015
    UK
    Posts : 1,900
    Windows 10 Home x64 (Laptop), Windows 10 Pro x64 (Desktop)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky View Post
    I think that you are wrong. I have studied microbiology and although we are talking a mere 2.5 billion years since the introduction of DNA into Earth's biosphere, many scientists and metaphysicians believe that there was actually a period of approx. 3 weeks in which DNA existed in a virus free environment. It wasn't instantaneously as you seem to suggest.
    2.31 . 10-9 % of the time since the creation of DNA has been virus free - that's fairly instantaneous by my standards.
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  6.    25 Sep 2016 #6
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Portsmouth Hampshire
    Posts : 1,800
    Windows 10 x86 14383 Insider Pro and Core 10240

    - so this post is not misunderstood:

    "metaphysicians" - did I copy that right from your post, Rocky? (with the accompanying red squiggly line beneath it!) I would love to meet one in a pub for beer, crisps and long candle-lit discussions about metaphysiology, metaphysiotherapy, and other aspects of metaphysicing in general.

    It's only an assumption that DNA has been around that long, and DNA wasn't "introduced into Earth's Biosphere" - the observation or definition of a "Biosphere" is dependent on... as far as any postulated "Metaphysician" or other pseudoscientific (or otherwise) professional could determine... is the presence of living organisms (Biota) that are based on a DNA hereditary mechanism - the only way we know to describe living things.

    Finally I have no idea where your formulation of "instantaneously" came from - I suggested that "probably since DNA first assembled into self-reproducing pre-biotic units, over 2.5 billion years ago" - a weasel worded assumption of likelihood based on lack of alternative evidence, and the present evidence of the age of the earth and the current fundamental basis of biology - which neither suggests a great deal of certainty when the first viruses arrived, but I am perfectly willing to accept your solid approximation of 3 weeks, as it is a plausible timescale, given that the order of 2-4 weeks is a common incubation period for human, animal and vegetable virus infection timescales from exposure to onset of morbidity. In my further defence I said "probably eventually come along", more weaselly-worded stuff on my behalf, that covers me from any criticism, or refutation whatsoever!

    As to the mathematical veracity of Steve C's calculation, who am I to say, as an aged molecular biologist sometime involved in phytoviral genetic analysis and later as a veterinary vaccine researcher and manufacturer?

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  7.    25 Sep 2016 #7
    Join Date : Mar 2015
    New Mexico
    Posts : 1,313
    Windows 10 Pro,

    Thank you very much Fafhrd for catching that. Parody is my specialty, but sometimes it goes unnoticed.
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  8.    25 Sep 2016 #8
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Portsmouth Hampshire
    Posts : 1,800
    Windows 10 x86 14383 Insider Pro and Core 10240
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  9.    25 Sep 2016 #9
    Join Date : Feb 2016
    Maribor, Slovenia
    Posts : 8,286
    Windows 10 (Pro and Insider Pro)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fafhrd View Post
    - so this post is not misunderstood:

    "metaphysicians" - did I copy that right from your post, Rocky? (with the accompanying red squiggly line beneath it!) I would love to meet one in a pub for beer, crisps and long candle-lit discussions about metaphysiology, metaphysiotherapy, and other aspects of metaphysicing in general.

    It's only an assumption that DNA has been around that long, and DNA wasn't "introduced into Earth's Biosphere" - the observation or definition of a "Biosphere" is dependent on... as far as any postulated "Metaphysician" or other pseudoscientific (or otherwise) professional could determine... is the presence of living organisms (Biota) that are based on a DNA hereditary mechanism - the only way we know to describe living things.

    Finally I have no idea where your formulation of "instantaneously" came from - I suggested that "probably since DNA first assembled into self-reproducing pre-biotic units, over 2.5 billion years ago" - a weasel worded assumption of likelihood based on lack of alternative evidence, and the present evidence of the age of the earth and the current fundamental basis of biology - which neither suggests a great deal of certainty when the first viruses arrived, but I am perfectly willing to accept your solid approximation of 3 weeks, as it is a plausible timescale, given that the order of 2-4 weeks is a common incubation period for human, animal and vegetable virus infection timescales from exposure to onset of morbidity. In my further defence I said "probably eventually come along", more weaselly-worded stuff on my behalf, that covers me from any criticism, or refutation whatsoever!

    As to the mathematical veracity of Steve C's calculation, who am I to say, as an aged molecular biologist sometime involved in phytoviral genetic analysis and later as a veterinary vaccine researcher and manufacturer?

    This elaboration is surely worthy of some kind of political nomination!
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  10.    25 Sep 2016 #10
    Join Date : Oct 2014
    Posts : 1,424
    win 10 Insider

    Wow, I am impressed!

    Interesting topic.
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