DNA Data Storage Lasts Thousands of Years
Massive amounts of digital information could be stored with no power and no degradation.
A few years back, a multinational research team based out of Europe made a startling announcement: They had developed a process for storing massive amounts of digital data in microscopic DNA strands.
Theoretically, according to the research, the process could store up to 300,000 terabytes of data in a fraction of an ounce of DNA - which could last for thousands of years. By comparison, today's most powerful desktop hard drives hold around 6 terabytes of data, and might last 50 years.
This week, the researchers moved their theory a few steps closer to practical application. At the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the team demonstrated DNA-encapsulated information had endured the equivalent of 2,000 years with no errors upon decoding.
The passage of time was approximated by embedding the DNA is silica spheres and heating it up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for one week. That equates to about 2,000 years at 50 degrees. When the DNA has unpacked and decoded, the information was preserved intact and error-free.
The encoded DNA contained only a small amount of data - about 80 kilobytes of text from the work of Archimedes and Swiss National Charter. (That's a bit of regional pride - the research headed up by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, or ETH.) In previous tests, the researchers had successfully encoded images, audio and video - pretty much anything that can be broken down into digital binary code.
Besides the radical miniaturization involved, the big advantage of using DNA over traditional hard drives is durability. DNA storage does not require a constant supply of electricity, but other no-power archiving materials - magnetic tape, say - tends to degrade within a decade.
Next up, the researchers hope to develop a kind of labeling system for searching within data encoded in DNA molecules.
"In DNA storage, you have a drop of liquid containing floating molecules encoded with information," writes lead researcher Robert Grass of ETH in the official news release. "Right now, we can read everything that's in that drop. But I can't point to a specific place within the drop and read only one file."
This week, we have inflatable buildings that reach up into space as well as personal submarines that dive deep into the ocean. Above: Now this is thinking outside the box -- or maybe I should say, thinking outside the shipping container. Florida-based CRG Architects want to solve the housing shortage in Mumbai, where nearly 12 million people clamor for a place to live. The so-called "Containscrapers" are twisting towers made of stacked shipping containers. Turning containers at an angle in relation to its neighbors creates ample living space as well as gaps that encourage natural ventilation. Vertical gardens growing along the facade would provide greenery and dissipate heat.
As a person who is afraid of heights, this 12.4-mile-tall
seems unimaginably frightening. I can stop hyperventilating, though, because at the moment, it's just a sketch in a US patent awarded to the Canadian space firm Thoth Technology. But if it ever becomes a reality, it could help advance space travel by reducing launch costs. Made from inflatable, pneumatically reinforced sections, the 755-foot-wide tower would provide satellite rockets with a platform for launching. People, equipment and payload would reach the top via an interior elevator. From that height, the cost of fuel need to get a satellite free of earth's gravity could be reduced by a one-third.
Some drones are being developed for delivery, but this six-rotor hexacopter was developed for collection. Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used the drone to fly about 150 feet above humpback whales in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off New England. From that height, the hexcopter took photographs of 36 different animals and then dipped down to 10 feet above sea level to collect blow-hole breath samples spewing into the air. The scientists hope to compare the photographs and "blow" analysis to better understand the relationship between a whale's body, its health and the habitat.
LEDs are solid-state bulbs, which by definition means they're rigid. But researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have turned LED technology into a fiber that, like thread or yarn, can be woven into fabric. This could make wearable computers as ubiquitous as underwear.
Every year for four years, an architect will be commissioned to design a temporary pavilion, an MPavillion, for the Queen Victoria Gardens in Melbourne, Australia. For the second year in a row, British architect Amanda Levete won. Her petal-shaped canopy is lit by LEDs and provides visitors to the area an airy, peaceful vibe. The pavillion is up until February, 2016.
Although most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing goodly amounts of sunlight right now, seasonal affective disorder -- a kind of depression related to changes in seasons -- affects 10 million people. This little gizmo called Lucy could help. It has a solar-powered mirror that follows the sun and reflects the light into whatever dark, dank needs brightening up. It was created by Italy-based Diva Tommei, who developed SAD while doing her PhD in New England. Tommei is taking preorders
If you're part fish or always wished you were, this Electric Scubster might be for you. It comes from French adventurist Stephane Rousson, who also invented the
airship. Rousson recently launched a
to further develop the personal sub he calls Nemo. Sure it has potential as a high-end toy, but it could also serve as a great research tool for archaeologists and marine scientists.
Changes in ambient air open and close the petals on these dynamic, metal flowers from
. Two different metal pieces bonded together react differently to changes in temperature. While one side expands in response to the air, the other doesn't, causing the piece to bend. The flowers create a low-maintenance garden that doesn't require watering.
A thin, flexible skin-worn sensor turns the body into a touch surface to control mobile devices. Several different shapes and sizes were developed by scientists at Saarland University and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in order to test which forms better suited different parts of body. Here, a version for a person's forearm allows the wearer to control a music device. Other systems were tested on a person's finger and even the ear-lobe.
Norwegians like their sauna and so for the first Arctic arts festival,
, which took place on the remote island of Sandhornøya, the organizers decided to build a sauna. The Agora can hold up to 100 visitors at a time and offers dramatic views of the Arctic Sea. It's open until September so there's still time to get your heat on.