Most documents, photos, videos and other data are stored digitally, including the CRC. The problem with digital storage is that the technology quickly becomes outdated; floppy disks, CDs and even USB-sticks are examples of this.
Today, we store most of our digital data in “the cloud”. Despite the name, this means that we rely on physical hard drives vulnerable to power outages, hacking, war and natural disasters.
Scientists have developed several methods that make it possible to store information in nature’s oldest storing device: DNA. DNA is a molecule which carries genetic information in all living creatures, and therefore works as nature’s own hard drive. In this case, synthetic DNA has been used to store digital information.
“Today it can actually be easier to retrieve information from prehistoric remains than from an old mobile phone. Storing digital data in synthetic DNA is like coding on ordinary computers; it's just another language. It's a bit like translating from one language to another,” says Nick Goldman, Senior Scientist at EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, UK.
Goldman is one of the scientists who first developed methods for storing large amounts of data in DNA and is responsible for encoding the Convention into a DNA-based format. The encoded document will then be synthesized and sequenced by Twist Bioscience (Nasdaq: TWST) in San Francisco, US:
“This project is an illustrative example of the way we are able to bring together innovative technologies based on biology to protect and benefit children worldwide and we are honored to be a part of this effort,” says Emily M. Leproust, CEO and Co-Founder of Twist Bioscience, and co-author of one of the first publications on DNA data storage.
The finished synthetic DNA will then be put into small pill-shaped stainless-steel capsules by Imagene SA in Pessac, France:
“We are honored to contribute to this project with our unique preservation technology, enabling the Convention on the Rights of the Child to remain recoverable and readable for centuries and even millennia to come,” says Sophie Tuffet, CEO and Co-Founder of Imagene SA, and co-author of one of the first publications on long term room temperature DNA storage.
The capsule containing the DNA will be kept in one of the safest places in the world, in the permafrost at the Arctic World Archive in Svalbard, Norway. The Convention on the Rights of the Child will be brought to Svalbard on World Children’s Day, November 20th, 2019.