Harvard Scientists Write the Book on Intelligent Design—in DNA

By Dr. Fazale ‘Fuzz’ Rana

the book on DNAOne of the most provocative arguments for intelligent design focuses on the recognition that DNA is an information-based system. Yet skeptics argue that biochemical information is not genuine information. Instead, they assert that when scientists refer to biochemical information, it is merely a scientific metaphor. New research by a team from Harvard and Johns Hopkins University—in which researchers encoded an entire book into DNA—raises questions about this objection and helps to powerfully advance the case for a Creator.

“When I get a little money I buy books; if any is left I buy food and clothes” – Desiderius Erasmus

I love books. As soon as you walk into our house, you will see that this is true. Bookcases line practically every wall, each one jam-packed with books. Then there are the stacks of books that don’t fit on the bookshelves…

For people who love books, storage (and ready accessibility) is a problem. Without a doubt, this explains the popularity of the Kindle and the Nook. (I have yet to purchase one because I prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands. But soon I may have no choice, if for no other reason than for lack of space for more bookcases in our house.)

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Recently, researchers from Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University provided the prospect of an exciting future for book lovers when they created the biotech version of an e-reader. These scientists encoded an entire book (along with illustrations) in DNA.1 The book consisted of 53,246 words, 11 JPG images, and even a JavaScript program.

This accomplishment only scratches the surface of possibilities that await the use of DNA as a storage medium. One gram of DNA can hold up to 455 exabytes (one exabyte equals 1018 bytes). In comparison, a CD-ROM holds about 700 million (7 x 108) bytes of data. (One gram of DNA holds the equivalent amount of data as 600 billion CD-ROMs. Assuming a typical book requires 1 megabyte of data-storage capacity, then one gram of DNA could harbor 455 trillion books.)

In spite of the researchers success, it currently isn’t practical or cost-effective to use DNA to store data (or to house the Library of Congress). But change is coming. The use of inorganic data-storage based systems, like CD-ROMs, will soon be an antiquated technology. And organic materials, like DNA, may become the storage medium of choice…


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