A. Humans can catch and get sick from computer viruses
B. Some computers are sentient, self-aware, and self-reproducing life forms.
C. Text, audio, and picture files can be stored on and retrieved from DNA.
D. Scientists in Poland are developing warp core technology that will allow near-light speed travel.
If you think all of them sound impossible, you are right. The fact that one of them is a reality makes the discovery all the more impressive. The correct answer is C.
Scientists at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, England encoded information by sequencing the four main nucleobasis of DNA: adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine (A, T, C, G). They encoded 26 seconds of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a digital photo of their lab, 154 Shakespearean sonnets, and the 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick paper describing the double-helical structure of DNA. The scientists were then able to retrieve the information with 100% accuracy.
There’s more. DNA-based memory can last for thousands of years as long as it is stored in the proper environment. I guess it will probably outlive the information stored on my CDs, Bluray DVDs, and flash drives. There’s more. One gram of single-stranded DNA can store 2.2 Petabytes of information. There are about 1 million gigabytes in 1 petabyte. So that means that one gram of single-stranded DNA can hold roughly the equivalent of 275,000 8 gigabyte jump drives, or 100 Billion DVDs.
The recent discovery of the amazing storage and recovery capacity of DNA suggests that humans have the capacity to remember all of life’s events, thoughts and feelings. The idea that we have the capacity to perfectly remember everything in life is consistent with LDS theology.
Notwithstanding the marvelous storage capacity of DNA, I think there is a retrieval bug in my system somewhere that keeps me forgetting where I put my keys. Oh well, I can live with a retrieval bug as long as I never unintentionally hit the “reformat DNA hard drive” switch.