This 3D-printed Stanford bunny also holds the data for its own reproduction

Courtesy ETH Zurich.

It’s now possible to store the digital instructions for 3D
printing an everyday object into the object itself (much like DNA
stores the code for life), according to a new paper
in Nature Biotechnology. Scientists demonstrated this new “DNA of
things” by fabricating a 3D-printed version of the Stanford
bunny—a common test model in 3D computer graphics—that stored
the printing instructions to reproduce the bunny.

DNA has four chemical building blocks—adenine (A), thymine
(T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C)—which constitute a type of
code. Information can be stored in DNA by converting the data from
binary code to a base 4 code and assigning it one of the four
letters. As Ars’ John Timmer
explained last year
:

Once a bit of data is translated, it’s chopped up into smaller
pieces (usually 100 to 150 bases long) and inserted in between ends
that make it easier to copy and sequence. These ends also contain
some information where the data resides in the overall storage
scheme—i.e., these are bytes 197 to 300. To restore the data,
all the DNA has to be sequenced, the locational information read,
and the DNA sequence decoded. In fact, the DNA needs to be
sequenced several times over, since there are errors and a degree
of randomness involved in how often any fragment will end up being
sequenced.

DNA has significantly higher data density than conventional
storage systems. A single gram
can represent
nearly 1 billion terabytes (1 zettabyte) of data.
And it’s a robust medium: the stored data can be preserved for long
periods of time—decades, or even centuries. But using DNA for
data storage also presents some imposing challenges. For instance,
storing and retrieving data from DNA usually takes a significant
amount of time, given all the sequencing required. And our ability
to synthesize DNA still has a long way to go before it becomes a
practical data storage medium.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
This 3D-printed Stanford bunny also holds the data for its own reproduction