Experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider generate 15 million gigabytes of data per year. That is a lot of digital data to inscribe on hard drives or beam up to the “cloud.”
George Bachand, a Sandia National Laboratories bioengineer at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, is exploring a better, more permanent method for encrypting and storing sensitive data: DNA. Compared to digital and analog information storage, DNA is more compact and durable and never becomes obsolete. Readable DNA was extracted from the600,000-year-old remains of a horse found in the Yukon.
Tape- and disk-based data storage degrades and can become obsolete, requiring rewriting every decade or so. Cloud- or server-based storage requires a vast amount of electricity; in 2011Google’s server farms used enough electricity to power 200,000 U.S. homes. Furthermore, old-school methods require lots and lots of space. IBM estimated 1,000 gigabytes of information in book form would take up seven miles of bookshelves. In fact, Sandia recently completed a 15,000-square-foot building to store 35,000 boxes of inactive records and archival documents.
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