Quote Of The Day

4 comments June 26th, 2007at 11:11am Posted by Eli

From an NYT essay about using DNA as a data repository:

[T]he Japanese group… wrote four copies of Albert Einstein’s famous formula, E=mc2, along with “1905,” the date that the young Einstein derived it, into the bacterium’s genome, the 4.2-million-long string of A’s, G’s, T’s and C’s that determine everything the little bug is and everything it’s ever going to be.


In so doing they have accomplished at least a part of the dream that Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist and musician, and David Sulzer, a biologist at Columbia, enunciated in 1999. To create the ultimate time capsule as part of the millennium festivities at this newspaper, they proposed to encode a year’s worth of the New York Times magazine into the junk DNA of a cockroach. “The archival cockroach will be a robust repository,” Mr. Lanier wrote, “able to survive almost all conceivable scenarios.”

The essay also includes this rather sobering little tidbit:

The human genome, for example, consists of some 2.9 billion of those letters — the equivalent of about 750 megabytes of data — but only about 3 percent of it goes into composing the 22,000 or so genes that make us what we are.

That’s IT??? The entire sum total of what makes us human, the supposed pinnacle of the evolutionary process, is only 2.5 megabytes? Jeez, you could clone me from a couple of old-school floppy disks.

Entry Filed under: Quotes,Science,Weirdness


  • 1. Jenn  |  June 26th, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Jeez, you could clone me from a couple of old-school floppy disks.

    Kind of like in “Bodyswap” where Lister’s entire mind is able to be stored on a single mini-cassette.

  • 2. Eli  |  June 26th, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Of course, that’s *Lister* we’re talking about…

    In any case, a clone is not the same as a duplicate. It would presumably turn out very similarly, but would not have the same memories. I would be interested in knowing just how much storage it would require to back up the average human brain – hopefully a lot more than 2.5MB. If it’s less than 1.5 terabytes, I should be all set…

  • 3. spocko  |  June 27th, 2007 at 1:30 am

    Having had my brain downloaded into an orb and taken out and put in a box, put into Bones and dematerialized any number of times, I can tell you exactly how much space my brain takes up.

    What i wish I could do is edit out some information that is no longer needed. Like my old phone numbers. Surely I will never need to call my 1963 self? Yet I still know that number. Why.

  • 4. P. Drano  |  June 28th, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Everything I know seems to fit into a small spiral-bound notebook that cost $1.25. I don’t remember buying it though.

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