DNA Diaries

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In the article titled "DNA Diaries" by journalist Zarrar Khuhro, the author explores the significance of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and its role in our lives. The piece delves into the potential consequences of the absence of DNA from our bodies. The absence of DNA would lead to the cessation of cell replication and subsequent cell death, resulting in rapid organ failure and ultimately death.

DNA is portrayed as the blueprint for our individual identities and the functioning of our bodies. Each individual's uniqueness is defined by their DNA. The remarkable data storage capacity of DNA is highlighted, with the revelation that a mere gram of DNA can hold up to 215 petabytes of data, a concept compared to fitting the world's data into a single coffee mug.

The current method of storing vast amounts of data involves massive exabyte data centers, such as The Citadel, which are expensive to build and maintain due to energy costs and the need for constant data migration to newer databases. As we generate an immense amount of data daily through activities like social media and emails, the need for data storage solutions becomes increasingly critical.

The article introduces the concept of DNA data storage, a burgeoning field of scientific research that proposes using DNA molecules to store data. This technology could eliminate the need for large data centers and ensure data security for centuries due to the DNA's inherent stability. The main challenge lies in finding cost-effective methods to synthesize the required amount of DNA for data storage.

The piece also addresses the debate surrounding DNA's electrical conductivity. Recent research suggests that DNA molecules can conduct electricity and potentially be used in building nanoelectronic devices. Given the shrinking size of circuits and transistors, DNA's electrical conductivity could revolutionize the field of electronics.

Additionally, the article presents a groundbreaking discovery: electrical currents can control human genes. Scientists have successfully triggered insulin production in human cells using electrical currents. This breakthrough could pave the way for wearable devices that not only monitor insulin levels but also prompt genes to produce insulin, potentially eliminating the need for insulin injections for diabetics.

In conclusion, the author marvels at the possibility that the same building blocks that define our identities, DNA, could also serve as the foundation for future technological and medical advancements. The article envisions a future where DNA data storage and electrical manipulation of genes contribute to monumental breakthroughs in various fields, reflecting the ongoing synergy between science and human identity.

Facts and Figures from the article

1.      A single gram of DNA can store as much as 215 petabytes of data.

2.      The world's data is currently stored in exabyte data centers, with The Citadel being one of the largest at 1.3 million square feet.

3.      On a daily basis, approximately 2.5 million gigabytes of data are generated, equivalent to 1.7 megabytes per person per second.

4.      The half-life of DNA is 500 years when stored properly.

5.      The cost to write one petabyte of data using current methods is $1 trillion.

6.      DNA molecules can conduct electricity and self-assemble into well-defined shapes.

7.      Electrical currents have been used to trigger insulin production in human cells, potentially leading to wearable devices for diabetics.

MCQs Based on the article

1. What would happen if all the DNA in your body disappeared?

   a) You would experience extreme pain and die within days or hours.

   b) You would lose around 200 grams of weight and feel no other effects.

   c) Your cells would multiply rapidly, leading to health issues.

   d) You would experience a sudden burst of energy.

   Answer: a


2. How much data can a single gram of DNA store?

   a) 100 terabytes

   b) 215 petabytes

   c) 1 exabyte

   d) 500 gigabytes

   Answer: b


3. What is the main issue with current data storage in exabyte data centers?

   a) Data centers are not secure.

   b) The cost of building data centers is too low.

   c) Data stored degrades over time and needs frequent migration.

   d) Data centers are not energy-efficient.

   Answer: c


4. How much data is generated on a daily basis through various activities?

   a) 1.7 terabytes per person

   b) 2.5 petabytes per person

   c) 1.7 megabytes per person

   d) 215 gigabytes per person

   Answer: c


5. What is the approximate cost to write one petabyte of data using current methods?

   a) $1 billion

   b) $1 million

   c) $1 trillion

   d) $1,000

   Answer: c


6. What potential breakthrough does the article mention regarding DNA's electrical conductivity?

   a) DNA can be used to power electronic devices.

   b) DNA can conduct electricity but has limited applications.

   c) DNA can replace traditional data centers.

   d) DNA may be used to build nanoelectronic devices.

   Answer: d


7. How did researchers use electrical currents to impact human genes?

   a) They triggered gene mutations.

   b) They caused cells to produce insulin.

   c) They created artificial DNA.

   d) They stopped gene replication.

   Answer: b


8. What could wearable devices using electrical currents potentially do for diabetics?

   a) Monitor blood pressure levels.

   b) Control heart rate.

   c) Eliminate the need for insulin injections.

   d) Measure oxygen levels.

   Answer: c


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