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Biotech Data Storage Science

Hong Kong Team Stores 90GB of Data In 1g of Bacteria 164

Bananana writes "A research team out of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has found a way to do data encryption and storage with bacteria. The project is called 'Bioencryption,' and their presentation (as a PDF file) is here."
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Hong Kong Team Stores 90GB of Data In 1g of Bacteria

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  • Not secure (Score:5, Funny)

    by michelcolman ( 1208008 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:07PM (#34344378)
    If that bacteria mutates and starts spreading through human hosts, EVERYONE will have your data!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:07PM (#34344382)

    in what bateria is.

  • by Anarchduke ( 1551707 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:11PM (#34344410)
    The next time i wipe my hard drive, I could do it with bleach?
  • How fast is the data access? Can I use them for RAID 10 in my new storage?
  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:18PM (#34344468)


    Was the research funded by Bruce Wayne

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:20PM (#34344484) Homepage Journal

    It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.

    My anti-virus software just deleted all my data!

    My Windows computer has been infected! Go buy another 2TB hard drive, I'm running out of space at an exponential rate!

    In Soviet Russia, bacteria infects your data!

    The Bacteria Protection Agency is up in arms!

    Hello nerds. Look at your keyboard, now back to me, now back at your keyboard, now back to me. Sadly, it's infected with bacteria, but if you stopped washing your hands, it could be a lot worst. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re still at your desk reading this shit. What’s on your hand, back at me. I have it, the solution to your storage problems. Look again, the bacteria are now data. Anything is possible when you stop bathing. I’m a trojan horse.


    • In Soviet Russia, bacteria infects your data!

      Better like this: In Soviet Russia, your data infects bacteria!

    • Hello nerds. Look at your keyboard, now back to me, now back at your keyboard, now back to me. Sadly, it's infected with bacteria, but if you stopped washing your hands, it could be a lot worst. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re still at your desk reading this shit. What’s on your hand, back at me. I have it, the solution to your storage problems. Look again, the bacteria are now data. Anything is possible when you stop bathing. I’m a trojan horse.

      im speechless after reading this ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kent_eh ( 543303 )

      It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.

      That's not the star trek reference that jumped into my mind.
      I was thinking of these [memory-alpha.org].

      • The fans always questioned the purpose of those. Their malfunctioning nearly destroyed the ship three times, yet they provide no apparent benefit. They are supposed to be some sort of super-processor, but this is an informed attribute - never is their supercomputing power called upon in any episode.
        • never is their supercomputing power called upon in any episode.

          Funny answer: How much computing power do YOU think would be necessary to run Windows 2370? And no, the year of Linux on the starship still hasn't happened yet - unless you'd like to attribute the exploding consoles to kernel panics instead of BSODs.

          Serious answer: you have a hologram performing surgery. you have Harry Kim's Astrometrics lab which tracks some absurd amount of celestial objects, process regular space and subspace communications, and do database queries that would make Google's web index loo

    • All your bacteria are belong to us.

  • This gives a whole new meaning to the term "contagious meme" :).
  • For data density, that's not too shabby. 1TB of data fits into approximately 12 grams of storage.

    Of course, it depends on the size/weight of the read/write equipment, but could this be comparable to mechanical disks for data density?

    Just have to remember to feed and water your computer every so often...and wonder if the data cops would be able to use torture to force-retrieve your data? Poor little bugs...

    • i'd be pretty skeptical that the bits/kg of biological storage will come anywhere close to that of more traditional media anytime soon.
      i'm speculating, but i suspect that if you weighed the magnetic particles responsible for current HD technology they'd come in at way over 100GB/gram.

      • Not to mention that current storage technology doesn't need a life support system, which will of course add weight to the overall system...yeah.

        I just thought it was decent at a first glance, but if you compare the bacteria (storage) weight to the actual weight of contemporary drive platters alone, it's not so impressive...and as others have mentioned, data management pains would seem to negate most observed advantages, other than possibly the strength of the data encryption.

  • Funny (Score:3, Informative)

    by Konsalik ( 1921874 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:24PM (#34344514)
    I see no posts tagged other than funny in this story's future...
  • cant be long now.
  • by TDyl ( 862130 )
    Now let's see the TSA mess with my pr0n (sorry, business data) at the airport!

    And I can quite happily keep it warm under my balls. "Sorry, officer, it's man juice, really".
  • "The term bateria means “drum kit” in Portuguese and Spanish." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bateria [wikipedia.org]

    Does that mean we have to samba every time we access data?

    Actually, that sounds kinda fun.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:36PM (#34344598) Homepage

    What they actually did was to store about 100 bytes. This may be useful for putting copyright information into genetically engineered organisms. As a method of bulk data storage, though, it leaves much to be desired.

    DNA synthesis costs about $0.29 per base pair. [google.com] Sequencing is a bit cheaper, but you currently get less than 1000 base pairs sequenced per run. Reading and writing takes a room of expensive wet lab gear, and hours to days.

  • I just couldn't help myself with this one.
  • In a related story, People for the Ethical Treatment of Germs are outraged. A spokesperson for the agency has offered an official statement requesting minimum hourly wages, paid vacation time off, and retirement benefits. They fell that considering the working environment is quite literally a shit-hole these demands are entirely reasonable.
  • I had it stored on my brand-new crash-proof bio-Raid 5 array. But Smokey scored a big bag of weed last night, got the hungry and thought the bio-drives were blocks of ice cream I'd forgotten to put away. He tossed them in the freezer and ate 'em with chocolate sauce. I guess crash-proof, isn't munchy-proof.

  • By a maid and some Lysol.
  • When you can carry around the sum total of humanity's creative works in a backpack that's easily copied, traditional notions of intellectual property become meaningless. No amount of legal penalty will change this. The drive to share the experience of new information is too strong.

    Adapt or die.

  • I read TFA, and they're storing the data in the Bacteria's DNA. I assume there is a minimum chance of this happening, but if somehow the bacteria mutate and reproduce, perhaps with horizontal gene transfer, I don't know what could happen to existing species. What if suddenly one gene is changed and suddenly harmless bacteria become harmful?

    Seriously, have they done a study on the safety of this method? Worst of all, we're not talking about a species which can easily be handled and captured if it ever escap

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

      Not to mention the fact that DNA has this tendency to mutate.

      "Gee I really don't know why the sales figures have fallen, I could have sworn they were normal last night when I wrote this presentation!"

    • Wow, indeed, I hope they're properly sanitizing their strings, this could produce the mother of all code injection attacks!

      I would like to back up this file with pictures of our little son, Bobby Killhost...

  • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:09PM (#34344822) Homepage Journal
    Every time I sit on the crapper I must be producing terrabytes of back-up storage.
  • The project is called 'Bioencryption,' and their presentation (as a PDF file) is here.

    As a PDF file, as opposed to as a bacterial culture, right?

  • Even the worst of the PDF viewers (Adobe) can be freely downloaded, but I haven't quite found a Bacteria Viewer for download yet...

  • iGEM teams (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Uruviel ( 772554 )
    Woah iGEM seems to be getting a lot of attention! This is good I think, synthetic biology is an important new field of engineering and science. In many ways I feel like the "old" AI days, the whole philosophy of "if you want to understand it, you'll have to build it" is very similar. Personally I was part of the University of Groningen team (www.igemgroningen.com) which aimed to create a hydrophobic (water repelling) biofilm coating, it could've had lots of applications if it worked but like most iGEM teams
  • Due to recent discoveries in data storage, encryption and data security issues will henceforth be handled by the CDC.
  • "program" the bacteria to generate rainbow tables, then as they reproduce, the size of the tables will expand, meaning you get more useful data over time. Eventually, you'll be able to get a 200 char password from its MD5, even if it's made of random characters and numbers, as well as upper and lower case letters!*

    *Note: the above post has a deliberately narrow view as to how Bioencryption, rainbow tables, password cracking, science, etc. works

  • by safetyinnumbers ( 1770570 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @04:29PM (#34344968)
    Does "1g of bacteria" mean 1000 or 1024 milligrams?
  • Saw the ppt show. There's nothing there.

    Just some very basic blather about encoding and redundancy.

    Absolutely nothing new.

    And AFAICT they have not done any actual DNA coding and decoding.

    Perhaps they would have done everyone a service by actually estimating the time and cost of encoding/decoding 90GB.

    Perhaps they left that part out as the numbers would be so dismal.

  • Explains the spelling error.
  • Extraordinary claims need to have extraordinarily well working links.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @06:13PM (#34345648)

    Now we've got three meanings for GB:

    1GB = 10^9
    1GB = 2^30
    1GB = 1 Gram Bacteria

    When will the madness end!?

  • Viruses!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cowtamer ( 311087 )


    Now it'll be possible to catch human viruses from the Internet :)

    (Seriously -- what would stop an attacker from crafting a message that will code for a virus if this system ever found use?).

  • Now that the team has stored 90GB of data in 1g o bacteria, they're still working on how the hell to read the data back succesfully.
  • Am I missing something here?

    What is the advantage of having to keep your data storage ALIVE as opposed to...well, just sitting there? This seems like a serious drawback to me.

    And besides, terrorists will start using data storage devices to transport biological weaponry and all storage devices will have to be sequenced before travelers will be allowed into the boarding areas.

    Wait a second, what thread was I in?

  • Problem: Sneezing, and losing your entire collection of pornography.

    Benefit: My offsite backup facility is now a brothel.

    "There is no aspect of computing which does not, in some way, relate to sex."

  • ..plenty of room for a Windows 7 install

    This is what is known in the art world as a perfect marriage of subject and medium :-]
  • That was what I was told around 1992 by someone who studied bacterial genetics. In just a couple of weeks, some new gene that showed up in bacteria in one place (say, a mutation producing a better way to process some compund in a patch of mud somewhere) could be found in bacteria on the other side of the planet. Which made me realize (in theory) then that coding information into bacteria could be like a low bandwidth internet, by just sequencing packets of data into bacteria that were released, and elsewher

  • From the presentation they claim to be able to store 900,000 GB of data in 1g of Bacteria, not 90 GB as stated in the (current) story title.
  • Anyone else see a security problem in opening a PDF from some source in China?

  • Warning! McAfee and Symantec have reported a new computer virus that is spreading widely over internet and snail mail. Actually it is not a virus, but an antibiotic, which will kill all your hard drive bacteria.

    Security companies are working hand-on-hand with hard drive manufacturers for injecting the N-1 gene into the affected bacteria, with the hope of making them resistant to the virus or antibiotics, depending on how you want to call it. The medical community is getting nuts with the new definitions, an

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg