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Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram

Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram
A bioengineer and geneticist at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have successfully stored 5.5 petabits of data — around 700 terabytes — in a single gram of DNA, smashing the previous DNA data density record by a thousand times. The work, carried out by George Church and Sri Kosuri, basically treats DNA as just another digital storage device. Instead of binary data being encoded as magnetic regions on a hard drive platter, strands of DNA that store 96 bits are synthesized, with each of the bases (TGAC) representing a binary value (T and G = 1, A and C = 0). To read the data stored in DNA, you simply sequence it — just as if you were sequencing the human genome — and convert each of the TGAC bases back into binary. To aid with sequencing, each strand of DNA has a 19-bit address block at the start (the red bits in the image below) — so a whole vat of DNA can be sequenced out of order, and then sorted into usable data using the addresses.


Soon you'll be backing up your hard drive using DNA The application of data is rarely predictable. "Merit" is defined by the data's value in solving a particular quesiton or problem. Unless we can predict the future we have no way of assigning value (or lack thereof) to any data. I work in a non-profit and we always struggle with relatively basic things like how much personal or demographic information could/should we capture on donors or prospective donors so that we can better communicate with them in the future. Inevitably we end up with scenarios where we say "Man, if we had just started tracking that one thing 5 years ago this problem would be much simpler to solve". Hindsight is 20/20 so in my mind the answer is save everything.

Interstellar molecules are branching out: Detection of iso-propyl cyanide with ALMA Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Cornell University, and the University of Cologne have for the first time detected a carbon-bearing molecule with a "branched" structure in interstellar space. The molecule, iso-propyl cyanide (i-C3H7CN), was discovered in a giant gas cloud called Sagittarius B2, a region of ongoing star formation close to the center of our galaxy that is a hot-spot for molecule-hunting astronomers. The branched structure of the carbon atoms within the iso-propyl cyanide molecule is unlike the straight-chain carbon backbone of other molecules that have been detected so far, including its sister molecule normal-propyl cyanide.

Researchers Finally Show How Mindfulness and Your Thoughts Can Induce Specific Molecular Changes To Your Genes Michael Forrester, Prevent DiseaseWaking Times With evidence growing that training the mind or inducing specific modes of consciousness can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body. A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

Study Proves Link to Arsenic In Rice and DNA Damage By Natasha Longo – Rice is a staple in diets around the world, but tests have recently detected alarming and worrisome levels of arsenic in hundreds of rice products ranging from infant cereals to rice cakes, rice pastas, rice drinks and rice itself. The Rice Industry says arsenic occurs naturally and concerns are unwarranted. However, researchers have now proven a causal link between high levels of arsenic and chromosomal damage. The USA rice federation – the main organization representing the US rice industry – may think its product is perfect. But last year, South Korea refused to bid on U.S. rice imports after Consumer Reports magazine reported elevated levels of arsenic in the grain.

Stretchy battery drawn to three times its size 26 February 2013Last updated at 11:39 ET By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News The team tested their battery by stretching it 300% while it powered an LED lamp Researchers have demonstrated a flat, "stretchy" battery that can be pulled to three times its size without a loss in performance. While flexible and stretchable electronics have been on the rise, powering them with equally stretchy energy sources has been problematic.

The Five Biggest Threats To Human Existence In the daily hubbub of current “crises” facing humanity, we forget about the many generations we hope are yet to come. Not those who will live 200 years from now, but 1,000 or 10,000 years from now. I use the word “hope” because we face risks, called existential risks, that threaten to wipe out humanity. The Morphogenetic Field & The Future of DNA Christina Sarich, ContributorWaking Times Our genes have long been ballyhooed as either a death-sentence, or the Midas touch of genius, bestowing upon us pristine health and an agile mind, or the deterministic outcome of cancer, neurological disease, or various other birth ‘defects’, but what if there was something else helping to determine our fate? What if our genes were merely building blocks, and a greater intelligence was in charge of whether or not we can throw a basketball from the free throw line and get nothing but net every time, or die at the age of 46 like every other person in our family’s history, due to a genetic predisposition for cardiac arrest?

Milestone study probes cancer origin 14 August 2013Last updated at 13:01 ET By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News New images show cancer close-up, as David Shukman reports Scientists are reporting a significant milestone for cancer research after charting 21 major mutations behind the vast majority of tumours. The disruptive changes to the genetic code, reported in Nature, accounted for 97% of the 30 most common cancers. Finding out what causes the mutations could lead to new treatments. Some causes, such as smoking are known, but more than half are still a mystery. 5D optical memory in glass could record the last evidence of civilization Using nanostructured glass, scientists at the University of Southampton have, for the first time, experimentally demonstrated the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional digital data by femtosecond laser writing. The storage allows unprecedented parameters including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and practically unlimited lifetime. Coined as the 'Superman' memory crystal, as the glass memory has been compared to the "memory crystals" used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, which is able to store vast quantities of data for over a million years. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures. A 300 kb digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D using ultrafast laser, producing extremely short and intense pulses of light.

Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014 ORLANDO, Fla., October 8, 2013 View All Press Releases Analysts Examine Top Industry Trends at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013 October 6-10 in Orlando Gartner, Inc. today highlighted the top ten technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2014. Analysts presented their findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, being held here through October 10. Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

The Vagus Nerve and the Healing Promise of The Sudarshan Kriya Frank Huguenard, Staff WriterWaking Times At the center of our bodies resides a long, sinewy nerve that extends all the way from our medullas down through our chests to beyond our stomachs. This nerve, known as the Vagus Nerve, happens to be at a most fascinating intersection, not only between our two physical nervous systems (our central and autonomic nervous systems) but also between our conscious minds and subconscious minds. As such, it also acts as a bridge between our gross bodies and our subtle bodies. And it’s a nerve probably 99% of the population have never heard of nor even have a clue where it’s located. And yet the Vagus Nerve (ironically pronounced the exact same way as sin city itself, Las Vegas) may be the single most relevant organ in our body relative to our peace of mind and happiness.

Scientists Finally Present Evidence on Expanding DNA Strands by Marco Torres, The human genome is packed with millions of gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but it turns out that so-called junk DNA plays critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. Cambridge researchers have published a paper proving that four-stranded ‘quadruple helix’ DNA structures — known as G-quadruplexes — also exist within the human genome. The question is, how many DNA strands are human beings capable of possessing? Some geneticists are claiming humans will one day have 12 strands.

Ring Could Log Users In to Houses, Phones and Website as Soon as Next Month The need for more passwords that our feeble human brains struggle to remember can make it feel like we work for the machines instead of the other way around. Wearable, and even embeddable, login storage has emerged has a possible solution. After Google researchers floated the idea of a USB stick or a ring that would generate login keys, it appeared the Web giant would lead the way. But a UK project recently closed a $380,000 Kickstarter campaign, promising delivery of 61,000 password-bearing rings in September. The company, NFC Ring, makes a simple silver ring with two near-field communication transmitters inside it, storing access information that can potentially be used to unlock phones, cars or houses or even to log in to websites.

Related:  Atheist, Science and Secular