For the Biohackers series, Netflix has had the first episode of the new series saved in DNA as a thematically appropriate advertisement and sent 200 copies of it to fans and interested parties. What is particularly exciting is that there is also a Video in which the process carried out at ETH Zurich is presented.
Just four years ago, in 2016, Microsoft set a record when it managed to store 200MB of data in DNA. Three years later, in 2019, it was possible to store the English Wikipedia completely in DNA – also a record of 16 TB. But the process did not stop there. In the video, Prof. Dr. Robert Grass from the Functional Materials Laboratory explained the basic advantages. Above all, this includes the capacity: “Theoretically, 200 ExaBytes of data fit into a small cube of DNA”he explains.
The leading actress Luna Wedler proudly holds a small tube with some pink liquid in the camera. In this “are a million copies of the first Biohackers episode”she says proudly.
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Heckl from the Technical University of Munich explains the process of the conversion in such a way that the binary data are first translated into the sequences of A, C, T and G of the DNA. This DNA is then packaged in nanometer-sized glass beads. “Like an artificial fossil”, describes Heckl. A sequencer can then read this out before it is translated back.
Data stored in DNA can be kept for a very long time. Grass sees no problem in being able to read the episode in a thousand years. At the moment, however, it still takes about three days.
However, Grass already sees differences between the series and DNA as data storage: “In the series, technology is used to change biology. We actually go exactly the other way: we use biology to make technology.”