The Glass Bead Game: from MP3 to DNA

Now I have finally discovered the music storage format of the future:

While CDs only last a few decades, DNA—yes, the same stuff that contains our genetic instructions—is thought to be “readable” for over a million years, if stored in the right conditions. So Mezzanine is going to be stored in DNA molecules, encased in tiny glass beads.

The scientists who will do the encoding work at the Functional Materials Laboratory at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university. According to Robert Grass, a professor at the lab, their technique should ensure the album lasts for “hundreds to thousands of years.”

“While the information stored on a CD or hard disk is a sequence of zeros and ones, biology stores genetic information in a sequence of the four building blocks of DNA: A, C, G and T,” said Grass.

Mezzanine will be cut down to 15 megabytes using the Opus music compression format, and the data will be split into 920,000 fragments, each of which will be encoded in a short DNA strand. The scientists will then pour the DNA into 5,000 nanometer-sized glass beads. All of this will apparently take a month or two to accomplish.


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