DNA could store all of the world’s data in one room | Science | AAAS

DNA could store all of the world’s data in one room

Humanity has a data storage problem: More data were created in the past 2 years than in all of preceding history. And that torrent of information may soon outstrip the ability of hard drives to capture it. Now, researchers report that they’ve come up with a new way to encode digital data in DNA to create the highest-density large-scale data storage scheme ever invented. Capable of storing 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) in a single gram of DNA, the system could, in principle, store every bit of datum ever recorded by humans in a container about the size and weight of a couple of pickup trucks. But whether the technology takes off may depend on its cost.

DNA has many advantages for storing digital data. It’s ultracompact, and it can last hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place. And as long as human societies are reading and writing DNA, they will be able to decode it. “DNA won’t degrade over time like cassette tapes and CDs, and it won’t become obsolete,” says Yaniv Erlich, a computer scientist at Columbia University. And unlike other high-density approaches, such as manipulating individual atoms on a surface, new technologies can write and read large amounts of DNA at a time, allowing it to be scaled up.

Scientists have been storing digital data in DNA since 2012. That was when Harvard University geneticists George Church, Sri Kosuri, and colleagues encoded a 52,000-word book in thousands of snippets of DNA, using strands of DNA’s four-letter alphabet of A, G, T, and C to encode the 0s and 1s of the digitized file. Their particular encoding scheme was relatively inefficient, however, and could store only 1.28 petabytes per gram of DNA. Other approaches have done better. But none has been able to store more than half of what researchers think DNA can actually handle, about 1.8 bits of data per nucleotide of DNA. (The number isn’t 2 bits because of rare, but inevitable, DNA writing and reading errors.)

Erlich thought he could get closer to that limit. So he and Dina Zielinski, an associate scientist at the New York Genome Center, looked at the algorithms that were being used to encode and decode the data. They started with six files, including a full computer operating system, a computer virus, an 1895 French film called Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, and a 1948 study by information theorist Claude Shannon. They first converted the files into binary strings of 1s and 0s, compressed them into one master file, and then split the data into short strings of binary code. They devised an algorithm called a DNA fountain, which randomly packaged the strings into so-called droplets, to which they added extra tags to help reassemble them in the proper order later. In all, the researchers generated a digital list of 72,000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long.

They sent these as text files to Twist Bioscience, a San Francisco, California–based startup, which then synthesized the DNA strands. Two weeks later, Erlich and Zielinski received in the mail a vial with a speck of DNA encoding their files. To decode them, the pair used modern DNA sequencing technology. The sequences were fed into a computer, which translated the genetic code back into binary and used the tags to reassemble the six original files. The approach worked so well that the new files contained no errors, they report today in Science. They were also able to make a virtually unlimited number of error-free copies of their files through polymerase chain reaction, a standard DNA copying technique. What’s more, Erlich says, they were able to encode 1.6 bits of data per nucleotide, 60% better than any group had done before and 85% the theoretical limit.

“I love the work,” says Kosuri, who is now a biochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I think this is essentially the definitive study that shows you can [store data in DNA] at scale.”

However, Kosuri and Erlich note the new approach isn’t ready for large-scale use yet. It cost $7000 to synthesize the 2 megabytes of data in the files, and another $2000 to read it. The cost is likely to come down over time, but it still has a long ways to go, Erlich says. And compared with other forms of data storage, writing and reading to DNA is relatively slow. So the new approach isn’t likely to fly if data are needed instantly, but it would be better suited for archival applications. Then again, who knows? Perhaps those giant Facebook and Amazon data centers will one day be replaced by a couple of pickup trucks of DNA.

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Advising Guides for Engineering Students

Engineering students at the Maricopa Community Colleges have a new resource for navigating the maze of courses and sequences needed to prepare for transfer to ASU.

The recently updated Advising Guides provide students with information from five other common sources in a handy two-page format.

They are a great tool designed to save students and advisors time and money.

Here’s the link!

MIT engineering protective barrier that mimics skin

Interesting article from the American Ceramic Society regarding MIT’s development of a synthetic second skin that has potential to transform lives with medical and cosmetic applications.

Video: Scientists engineer ‘second skin’ with potential for superior topical UV protection  Published on June 1st, 2016 | By: Stephanie Liverani

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs have developed a new material that can temporarily protect and tighten skin and smooth wrinkles, according to an MIT News article.

Even better? The team plans to develop the material further for use in transdermal drug delivery and treatment of skin conditions, such as eczema and other types of dermatitis, and also adapt it to provide long-lasting ultraviolet protection.

Credit: MIT; YouTube

Read more here:  http://ceramics.org/ceramic-tech-today/video-scientists-engineer-second-skin-with-potential-for-superior-topical-uv-protection



New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

From The Scientist:  http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/45741/title/New-Gecko-Inspired-Adhesive/

By Jef Akst | April 6, 2016

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

Flexible patches of silicone that stick to skin and conduct electricity could serve as the basis for a new, reusable electrode for medical applications.

For years, researchers have recreated the microscopic hair-like pillars on gecko feet that, through atomic forces known as van der Waals’ interactions, allow the animals to scurry up walls and across ceilings. Such gecko-inspired adhesives could have a variety of applications, including medical bandages, but materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and colleagues wanted to apply these materials to create a novel wearable electrode.

Read more of Jef’s article in The Scientist here:


Mercury Transit Music Video

A Mercury Transit Music Video from Solar Dynamics Observatory
Video Credit: NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center, Genna Duberstein; Music: Encompass by Mark PetrieExplanation: What’s that small black dot moving across the Sun? Mercury. Possibly the clearest view of Mercury crossing in front of the Sun earlier this week was from Earth orbit. The Solar Dynamics Observatory obtained an uninterrupted vista recording it not only in optical light but also in bands of ultraviolet light. Featured here is a composite movie of the crossing set to music. Although the event might prove successful scientifically for better determining components of Mercury’ ultra-thin atmosphere, the event surely proved successful culturally by involving people throughout the world in observing a rare astronomical phenomenon. Many spectacular images of this Mercury transit from around (and above) the globe are being proudly displayed.


Imagine Science Films

Imagine Science Films is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in existence since 2008 committed to promoting a high-level dialogue between scientists and filmmakers.

Their mission is to bridge the gap between art and science through film, thereby transforming the way science is communicated to the public and encouraging collaboration across disciplines.

Together, scientists, who dedicate their lives to studying the world in which we live, and filmmakers, who interpret and expose this knowledge, can make science accessible and stimulating to the broadest possible audience. Imagine Science Films is committed to drawing attention to the sciences, whether it is through art or our community outreach efforts.

Read more about Imagine Science Films here:  http://imaginesciencefilms.org

2016 RecycleMania Tournament – Final Results


Thanks to Chaunda Fraulino and all of her hard work in making this happen every year. We have continually gotten better in this competition and I hope you all improve next year too.

Also thanks to all of you for doing your part and recycling, reducing, and reusing. This would not have been possible without an environmentally conscious student body and employees.

2016 RecycleMania Tournament
February 7 – April 2, 2016
Final Results
Glendale Community College (GCC) competed with 276 colleges and universities nationwide in the 2016 RecycleMania tournament from February 7 – April 2.  The four Arizona participants included Arizona State University, Glendale Community College, and the University of Arizona. GCC reduced the amount of waste per person from 8.63 lbs. in 2015 to 7.61 lbs. in 2016 earning a 3rd place finish in the 2016 Waste Minimization competition.
The goal of waste minimization is to reduce overall waste (trash plus recyclables) through waste reduction activities such as the Zero Waste Program.  As a direct result of our success in waste minimization, our placement in other categories is higher.  The final results in all categories are listed below.
2016 RecycleMania Final Results
Grand Champion
103 out of 207Per Capita Classic
249 out of 269Gorilla
222 out of 276

Waste Minimization
3 out of 114

Corrugated Cardboard
93 out of 97

Our cumulative GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Reductions during the competition are 58 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent, or 11 cars off the road, or the energy consumption of 5 households.

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About RecycleMania
This is GCC’s 6th year participating in the RecycleMania tournament.  The tournament ran from February 7 – April 2, 2016. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an 8-week period, schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or has the highest recycling rate overall.


Sierra Nevada

When Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 12 – 1 p.m.
Where Performing Arts Center
Event Title Secrets of the Sierra Nevada: Exploration
Contact E-mail robert.reavis@gccaz.edu
Contact Name Robert Reavis
Dr. Gergus will describe his explorations in the Sierra Nevada range.