dna tags

Bull Session

DNA as Data Storage

May 5, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life podcast we discuss how bio-inspired technology is beginning to intersect with information technology in big ways. With the exponential increase of digital data, we face an ongoing problem of information storage. Today most digital information is stored on media that will expire relatively quickly, lasting a few decades at most. Because of this, we require new methods for long-term data storage, and biotech might just have the answer. DNA could be the storage media of the future: It can last thousands, even potentially tens of thousands of years. And the tech industry has taken notice. For instance, last month Microsoft agreed to purchase millions of strands of synthetic DNA, from San Francisco based Twist Bioscience to encode digital data. Of course we may be years away from a commercial DNA storage product, but the potential for a revolutionary, even disaster proof media is there.

Resources

Twist Biosciences
DNA Storage at Microsoft Resarch
Microsoft experiments with DNA storage: 1,000,000,000 TB in a gram

Bull Session

Engineering Synthetic Biology

April 7, 2016          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we chat about the intersection of computer science / engineering and synthetic biology and Cello, a programming language for living cells.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University (BU) synthetic biologists have created software that automates the design of DNA circuits for living cells. This software, called Cello, has the potential to help people, who are not necessarily skilled biologists, to quickly begin designing useful, working biological systems. Using Cello, oil companies, for example, could develop smart bacteria that could clean up oil spills. Cello, which is open source, can be downloaded from the online repository GitHub or accessed via a Web interface.

Resources
A Programming Language for Living Cells

Bull Session

On Cloning

March 24, 2016          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss efforts to clone animal species to save them from extinction. In Seoul, Korea, a controversial lab plans to clone endangered animals using a technique called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), in which you extract the nucleus of skin cells from the animal you wish to clone, and then insert them into an egg with its nucleus removed. The lab has successfully used SCNT in their current business, cloning favorite pets who are recently deceased for a high price tag.

Resources
Inside the Cloning Factory that Creates 500 New Animals a Day

Bull Session

Designing Bio-Inspired Technology

March 5, 2015          

Episode Summary

The age of bio-inspired technology is upon us. Whether it’s DNA as data storage, transparent displays based on mollusk shells, or surveillance robots modeled after swarming bees, the possibilities abound for natural systems to serve as patterns for the products of the future.

In this episode of The Digital Life, we consider the evolution of the designer as technologist and engineer in conjunction with the ever expanding importance of bio-inspired technologies.