Data Storage for eternity

Papyri and manuscripts handed down the knowledge of antiquity to us, and they still preserve it, while in our current digital age the majority of our knowledge is stored on servers and hard disks, and the challenge is the survival of these data for more than 50 years. This worrying fact, concerning the duration and the reliability of digital filing supports, has led scientists and researchers to find new solutionsfor the long-term data storage and particular interest has aroused the “storage medium” by excellence present in nature, the DNA, which contains in very compact way an enormous quantity of data, that is to say our genetic information. At Zurich University, Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, they have probably found the way of decoding sequences of data in this natural memory, permitting their reading with a sequencing process recalling the one used for DNA examinations in common practice, granting the information preservation potentially for over one million of years. Concerning this, very useful was the study of fossils, because the inherent problem is that the DNA material is altered in time by the interaction with the chemical elements of the environment. The genetic material can be read and analysed because encapsulated in bones themselves, which act as protection. Therefore, researchers encapsulated the DNA segments containing the information in silicon balls with 150 nanometres of diameter, implementing a synthetic “fossil shell” and then they simulated a phenomenon of chemical degradation caused by some hundred years, subjecting the material to 70°C for one month. The DNA proved to be very sturdy: separated from the silicon by a fluoride-based solution, it was possible “to read” the data previously input (the first act of foundation of the Swiss federation in 1291). To compensate for errors, the used algorithm is based on a Reed-Solomon coding similar to that used for the data correction in transmissions on long distances.


Wire Tech World © 2024 All Rights Reserved