Saturday, December 13, 2014

Shakespeare in DNA: Hands-Down Coolest Thing I've Read This Weekend

     Besides the literature on which we're being tested (of course :) ), I read an old NPR article a few hours ago that blew my mind. Two scientists in the UK used a cypher to encode all of Shakespeare's sonnets first into binary (0's and 1's) and then into DNA base pairs (A and T, G and C). The researchers calculated that everything written in human history (approximately 50 billion megabytes of data) would weigh about 5 ounces in DNA-coded form.
     By comparison, the human brain is estimated to hold anywhere from 1 terabyte (1000 megabytes) to 10 terabytes of information. After you live a long life packed with memories, if you were to code each memory (and you can code pictures and videos with binary, too), your life would weigh between 1/10,000,000 and 1/1,000,000 of an ounce. That's about the weight of the head of a fruit fly. Congratulations.

Here's the article:

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