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.”
Digital data storage degrades and can become obsolete and old-school books and paper require lots of space. Compared to digital and analog information storage, DNA is more compact and durable and never becomes obsolete. Readable DNA was extracted from the 600,000-year-old remains of a horse found in the Yukon.
Bachand was inspired by the recording of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets into 2.5 million base pairs of DNA — about half the genome of the tiny E. coli bacterium. Using this method, the group at the European Bioinformatics Institute could theoretically store 2.2 petabytes of information — 200 times the printed material in the Library of Congress — in one gram of DNA.