This will revolutionize how computers store data

This will revolutionize how computers store data

Recently there's been a radical breakthrough in storing digital pictures from a computer, the pictures was stored in DNA blocks which is actually nothing new but the breakthrough was that the images were retrieved without any data loss, that is a very big deal. The reason it is a big deal is that it is estimated to digital universe is expected to hit 44 trillion gigabytes by the year 2020 which far exceeds our current storage capabilities. The whole idea of storing digital information within DNA was to make up for this lack of capacity.

The original idea of the project which was conducted by the University of Washington collaborating with Microsoft researchers was to shrink the data that was originally the size of a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube, which this technique will achieve. DNA was already recognized as being a great way of storing data, each DNA strand in the human body for instance has all the data to make another you already installed, it has all the data on your genes as well is how a living organism like a human being works. Not only is DNA very compact but it is extremely durable. The researchers started out by converting strings of ones and zeros into the four basic blocks of DNA sequences, adenine, guanine, cystosine and thymine.

The big question all along was going to be how you go from ones and zeros back to normal alphabetic letters, but an electrical engineer had the answer, using a smart approach you can make the DNA block extremely dense that you don't get a lot of errors that way. However if you do it wrong you will get a massive number of mistakes. Once the digital data was stored it was then chopped into pieces which gave them a massive number of tiny DNA molecules, they then de-hydrated these for long-term storage.

In order to retrieve the stored data the team had to encode the equivalent of zip codes into the DNA sequences, using this retrieval method allowed them to easily find what they wanted. Once that worked they also used the equivalent of street addresses which allowed researchers to read the data and then transform it back into its original form. At this time they have only managed to encode and retrieve data from images or videos but they say it is only a matter of time before they can store and retrieve any kind of data.

DNA molecules will be unable to store information millions of times more densely than currently existing technologies. One of the biggest problem is today with digital data storage devices is that they all degrade after a few years use. When asked the research team had no hesitation in stating that DNA storage was good for centuries without any data loss at all.

The biggest problem the team faces at the moment is a common problem at the start of any new technology, the costs right now are prohibitive but as everyone knows as the technology becomes more widely used and accepted its costs drop dramatically.

Turning to technology not nature

Turning to technology not nature

About one in eight women in the United States of reproductive age and their partners have difficulty conceiving. Today more and more couples are turning towards organizations like the American Society for reproductive medicine for advice and help. Between 2002 and 2013 treatment based assisted reproductive technologies jumped 25% said the society. Each of these treatments cost many thousands of dollars each but price never seems to be an objection, though many people disagree with this statement. The society is said that one of the biggest reasons for the increase in the treatments is that more and more women are delaying starting a family and the freezing of eggs is becoming more and more common, another factor that is increasing treatment numbers is the fact that more employers are now providing insurance cover for these procedures.

Is science the answer, it could be but it will depend on a whole bunch of medical tests first. The improvements in procedures and knowledge has increased the number of embryos that survived the transfer to the womb dramatically in the last few years. This is one of the main contributing factors to women and couples now being more willing to have these kinds of procedures. Doctors now say the number of women approaching them for information about freezing their eggs for later use has increased dramatically from 500 women in 2009 to over 5000 women in 2013.

“Women are deferring childbearing, but as they think about having children at an older rage, it's more difficult to conceive” said Owen Davis, society president. “So we are commonly treating women in the mid-to-late 30s”.

Some of the things these patients are having these kind of procedures to help them with our raising some serious ethical issues, like patients who only want a child of a certain sex, most doctors do not want the idea of using this technology to choose the gender of the baby as they say it lowers what the general community thinks of reproductive technology. On the other hand the technology is also being used to determine if the parents have passed on any genetic diseases, using the technology in this way is having the opposite effect within the community, most people heartily approve even religious leaders who basically oppose the use of the technology at all.

A lot of women whose doctors refuse their request for a child of a certain gender then take their chances because the first requests is generally that they want a healthy baby above any other consideration. Today most embryos are genetically scanned before they are implanted, the doctors are looking for any chromosomal abnormalities before they are implanted, the procedure which can now scan for hundreds of genetic disorders is expected to be standard procedure within the next five years for all embryos. Of course any embryos found to be defective or to carry any form of genetic abnormality are discarded. These scans generally do not give the couple any information on gender of the embryo.

One of the most outspoken critics of reproductive technology has been the Catholic Church, they argue that by the very nature of what they are doing that children produced this way are viewed as products, with quality control being important, they are not being viewed as human beings with dignity and rights. Most of the mainstream religions have policies very similar to the Catholic Church but have not been as vocal in their opposition. The medical professionals say that what they are doing is providing people who cannot conceive naturally for whatever reason a medical shortcut to give them a healthy baby, which cannot be a bad thing.