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When we will end the storage of digital data, we'll use DNA
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 11-07-2018

In the world there is a shortage of space for storage of digital data. This problem exists for a few years, however, ordinary people are unlikely to about it ever thought of. Not so long ago there was a time when the free space for recording of digital data was limited by the size of the hard drive of your computer. When the limit is reached we either went for a new hard disk, or recording onto the optical media. When they ended, we just removed the old data and recorded new. But there are those who never deletes data.

For example, do not many companies, especially those whose scope of activities and the value depends on the digital information that they have. The times are changing. Technologies are developing. Now the information is not removed, it is transferred to the cloud. By the way, the term "cloud" is very ephemeral and does not reflect the real physical phenomenon. He just seemed very comfortable and beautiful, and I left it. Where is the data stored? It does not matter, at least as long as we can at any time refer to them. Is there a high probability that we eventually run out of space in the cloud? Nobody is thinking about that. While paying your subscription all right. Little space? Choose a new tariff plan and get even more space for your information.

This razmalevannuju led to the fact that people became difficult even to imagine that someday we might run out of storage space for digital data. As was previously difficult to imagine what on Earth sooner or later will end the fresh water reserves are replenished through its cycle in nature. But here's the reality. In 2018, the water supply in Cape town (South Africa) is rapidly approaching its full exhaustion. And we, the people, don't think about it, are fast approaching the lack of free space for storage of digital data.

Data, data, data around some

The main reason for this depletion of free space of course tied to the rate at which we produce new data. Every day in the world thanks to the 3.7 billion of Internet users generated about 2.5 trillion bytes of information. Among all existing digital data, 90% was created in just the last two years. With the growing number of smart devices that connect to the world wide web (the "Internet of things"), these numbers will soon grow even stronger.

"Speaking of cloud storage, people often imply there is an infinite space to store information," — says the portal Digital Trends Hyun-Joon Park, Chairman and co-founder of the Catalog company's data storage.

"However, the cloud is the same computer on which your data is stored. People just don't realize that the world generated so much digital data that the pace at which they are substantially ahead of our ability to keep it. In the very near future we will get a huge gap between the payload and our ability to maintain them with traditional media".

As companies involved in cloud data storage is constantly busy building new data centers or expanding existing ones, is very difficult to predict when we will lose all free space. However, according to the same Park, by 2025, humanity in the aggregate can generate more than 160 zettabytes of digital information (zettabytes, for those who don't know, it's a trillion gigabytes). How much of that volume will we really save? About 12.5 percent, says Park.

This question definitely needs solving.

Maybe this answer is DNA?

So I think Park, Nathaniel rocket, as well as their colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of technology. Together they founded the company Catalog, which has developed a technology that may in the opinion of its creators to change the way we think about how in the near future to store all our digital data. In their opinion, or rather the statement in a short time, digital data from all over the world would fit in an area of no more wardrobe.

The company Catalog offers an appropriate solution to encode data in DNA. This sounds like one of the subjects of the American science fiction writer Michael Crichton, but they offer a scalable and affordable solution is realistic and even attracted $ 9 million in venture funding, and support of leading professors from Stanford and Harvard universities.

"I often ask the question: whose DNA do we use? It seems as though people believe we take the DNA of someone and turn them into mutants or something," laughs Park.

But this is not what the company Catalog. DNA that uses the Catalog to encode the data is a synthetic polymer. It is not of biological origin and was not created in pairs of nitrogenous bases, in which information is recorded. A series of zeros and ones, which is recorded in the polymer may not be code for something living. However, the output is the product of biologically almost indistinguishable from what we are accustomed to meet in the living cell.

The idea that DNA can be considered as an alternative means for storing digital information originated a few decades ago. In fact, when James Watson and Francis Crick came to model the structure of DNA in 1953. However, to date a number of significant limitations did not allow to see the huge potential of using DNA as a storage medium for digital information, not to mention how all this translate into reality.

In the conventional presentation method of information storage by DNA focused on the synthesis of new DNA molecules; the mapping of sequences of bits of information with the sequences of four pairs of DNA and the production of a sufficient number of molecules to represent all the numbers that you want to keep. The problem with this method is the high cost and slowness of the process. In addition, there are a lot of restrictions pertaining to the storage of the data.

The approach of the company Catalog offers off process of synthesis of molecules from the process of their coding. If to speak in essence, the company first produces a huge amount of certain molecules (which significantly reduces the cost of production), and then encodes the information through the use of a diversity of ready-made molecules.

As an analogy Catalog compares the previous approach with the production of custom hard drives already pre-recorded information. The record of new information in this case, implies the necessity for a new hard drive from scratch. A new approach proposed Catalog, we can compare the mass production of empty hard disks and record them as required, a new encoded information.

It's all in the way of storage

The beauty of it all is how a huge amount of data can be stored in a very compact area. As a demonstration Catalog used his technology to encode in the DNA of various fiction books. For example, the whole cycle of novels "the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy". But all this stuff in front of opportunities.

"If you compare comparable magnitude, then the number of bits you can save by using DNA will be a million times higher than what is offered by the same solid state drives. For example, take the size of a normal flash drive. When you use the DNA method of storing information you can record on a device the size of a flash drive is a million times more information than a regular flash drive".

Compared with SSDs, say developers, still not quite accurate. DNA allows you to store a comparable amount of much more information, however, the technology does not allow her instant access, as for example, in the case of the same USB drives. Technology Catalog transformerait information to physical solid pellets (pellets) made of synthetic polymer.

To access this information, you need to take the encoded synthetic polymer pellets to rehydrate it with water, and then "read" using DNA sequencer. As part of the process will be to allocate base pairs of DNA, which can then be used to calculate the number of zeros and ones forming information. From beginning to end, this process can take at least a few hours.

For this reason, this technology is primarily focused on the archiving market, which do not require quick access to information. Usually in this case means data that are not used or very rarely used after recording, but it is extremely important to preserve. For example, how does your guarantee on a refrigerator, only in the scale of corporate significance.

What benefits it will give ordinary users? In an earlier article we talked about the fact that most of us don't think about what is happening and where we store our information. To solid state media? Yes let though on a magnetic tape. We are not interested as long as we have access to it at any time.

For the duration of the recovery process is information we are unlikely to ever reach a level where some Cloud, Google or Yandex.The disk will store our information in giant vats of DNA. If the same technology Catalog proves to be effective, it is likely that it will find its niche in areas where approach long-term storage of information. As for short-term storage method of information, which is currently used as hard disk drives and solid state drives, we have to rely on other methods.

Introducing prospects

This beaker contains millions of copies of the data encoded in DNA

Nevertheless, even here one can see the almost sci-Fi.

"Imagine that you implanted under the skin pellet contains all information about your health: details about your magnetic resonance angiography, information about your blood group, x-rays for your dentist," says Park.

"You'll want all of this data was always available to you, but don't want to store them somewhere in the cloud or on some unprotected hospital server. Having always of this information in the form of DNA, you can physically manage it, to obtain, if necessary, access, to limit it to all the rest and open it directly your doctor".

"In almost every modern hospital has a DNA sequencer. I'm not saying that we are pursuing now is the goal of using this technology, but in the future it may become possible" — says the developer.

Currently, the Catalog is engaged in pilot projects aimed to demonstrate the efficiency of developed technology.

"Some intractable scientific challenges before us is not necessary, it is more of a task on optimization of mechanical processes," said Park.

By his own admission to the Park, he decided to connect to study ways of storing data with DNA just because he thought it was very cool and innovative technological approach to the solution of a big problem. Now according to experts, this technology may become one of the most important technologies of our time.

Nikolai Khizhnyak


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