Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” stored in DNA by Twist Bioscience and Microsoft

In the first instance of the use of DNA as a long term archival quality storage medium, Twist Bioscience and Microsoft have saved historic performances of Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water and Miles Davis' Tutu on DNA. The performances were taken from audio recordings saved in the archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival. The audio recordings have been stored in DNA for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Archive.

Image: Twist Bioscience

Image: Twist Bioscience

Bill Peck, chief technology officer of Twist Bioscience says, "This is a very exciting project: we are now in an age where we can use the remarkable efficiencies of nature to archive master copies of our cultural heritage in DNA. As we develop the economies of this process new performances can be added any time. Unlike current storage technologies, nature’s media will not change and will remain readable through time. There will be no new technology to replace DNA, nature has already optimized the format."

DNA is made up of four nucleotide bases, adenine, cytosin, guanine and thymine, commonly referred to as A, C, G and T. To store the data, the researchers converted the binary file consisting of a series of 0s and 1s into sequences based on A, C, G and T. In this proof-of-principle project, 00 represents A, 10 represents C, 01 represents G and 11 represents T.

DNA is nature's preferred storage medium, and the recordings stored in the DNA molecules can be stable for millenia, and offers data density beyond what is available in conventional data centers. It is also easy to copy the files stored in this format. The entire six petabyte archive of the Montreux Jazz Festival can be saved in DNA in less space than that occupied by a grain of rice.

In March this year, researchers from  Columbia University and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) demonstrated the storage of an entire OS, a French film, an Amazon gift card, a Pioneer plaque and a 1948 study by information theorist Claude Shannon in DNA.

Updated Date: Oct 01, 2017 13:33 PM