Since its release on the Machine Head album in 1972, Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” has appeared on vinyl, 8-track, cassette, CD and all matter of digital files. Now, it’s been recorded on human DNA.
And I don’t mean the instinctive need for wannabe guitar gods to riff on the song while trying out guitars they’ll never buy from the local music store. In this case, DNA is the recording medium for the actual Deep Purple audio. This audio, in fact.
Working with Microsoft and a company called Twist Bioscience, researchers at the University of Washington have been able to imprint this recording from the Montreux Jazz Festival into DNA by transmuting the zeroes and ones of a digital file into adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine, the As, Ts, Cs and Gs that form the building blogs of the DNA molecule.
Why would anyone want to do this? Because DNA is remarkably tough and long-lasting. Remember what they did with the dinosaur blood taken from that amber-bound mosquito in Jurassic Park? Yep. Store something as DNA and it’ll be around forever. Plus the amount of storage available with this kind of DNA archiving is astounding.
The Deep Purple exercise was really just a proof of concept. Could digital material be encoded into DNA and then played back without error? The answer is “yes.”
So what comes next? Perhaps transliterating exabytes of data into DNA for long, long, LONG-term storage. After all, recording mediums come and go. Try and find an Edison phonograph to play a cylinder. Hell, even if you could find a working 8-track player, chances are the tape would be so dried out it would be uplayable. DNA, the other hand, will always be DNA. DNA is forever.
Read more at the CBC. (Via Larry)