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Messages in a DNA bottle
January 8, 2003 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Data can be encoded and retrieved from DNA --even after multiple generations. Any bets on what the first message ever decoded from human DNA will read? My money's on "Hello World".
posted by costas (53 comments total)

 
"Best if used by August 12, 100000 BC"
posted by angry modem at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2003


The bacteria currently in my chest are encoded with "WE 0WN YOU SUXXOR".

cough
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:12 AM on January 8, 2003


"Wash in warm water with like colors. Air dry."
posted by uftheory at 9:19 AM on January 8, 2003


Drink Coke
posted by GernBlandston at 9:19 AM on January 8, 2003


Of course, given that there is a fairly steady rate of mutation in all DNA, after millions of cycles cell division, there are likely to be errors introuced and propagated through the system, Its a bit like the game Telephone where the messages change ever so slightly as they are passed from person to person. Since there is no evolutionary pressure to keep this message intact (after all, it doesn't affect the viability of the organism) this is a less than ideal manner for long term data storage.
posted by FullFrontalNerdity at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2003


>Drink Coke

I feel Coke.
posted by shepd at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2003


Reminds me of this. Maybe we will find a message from aliens.
posted by benjh at 9:27 AM on January 8, 2003


"All your base pairs are belong to us."
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:28 AM on January 8, 2003


"What is six times nine?"
posted by jazon at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2003


dna could always store messages. the variety of chemicals used correspond to a base-4 mathematic system, which is a bit larger (no pun intended) than the current base system we use to store bits (base-2).
posted by moz at 9:42 AM on January 8, 2003


"We regret any inconvenience you may have experienced."
posted by vraxoin at 9:42 AM on January 8, 2003


"IF YOU CAN READ THIS YOU ARE TOO CLOSE"
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:43 AM on January 8, 2003


"goodbye world" would be more accurate (and a neat foreshadowing plot, to boot)
posted by BentPenguin at 9:44 AM on January 8, 2003


FFN: excellent point. I vaguely remember from my molecular biology classes that the error rate in replicating DNA is about 10-8. Since there are four bases, each base can encode two bits, that would be about 40 errors per GB introduced in each generation.

Anyone know how this compares to error rates in usual forms of computer memory?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2003


SURRENDER DOROTHY.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:48 AM on January 8, 2003


"What hath God wrought?"

On second thought:

"What hath Man wrought?"
posted by alumshubby at 9:53 AM on January 8, 2003


"Would it kill ya to knock!?"
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:59 AM on January 8, 2003


"Räel is an asshole fraud."
posted by ParisParamus at 10:01 AM on January 8, 2003


What's the frequency, Kenneth?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:08 AM on January 8, 2003


//DO NOT TOUCH! not sure how this code works...
function CreateConsciousness() {
bLaughter = true;
bKnowsOwnMortality = true;
bCravesKFCfortnightly = true;
}
posted by SNACKeR at 10:10 AM on January 8, 2003


This brings up an interesting question: if there was a cataclysmic EMP that did wipe out the world's electronic infrastructure, how the hell could the data from bacterial DNA be extracted without electronic means?
posted by shecky57 at 10:16 AM on January 8, 2003


It's not too surprising that the first message encoded on DNA is "It's a Small World". Anyone who ever rode that damn Disney ride at least once probably has the song encoded in their DNA anyway.
posted by yhbc at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2003


Damnit, Slithy_Tove, you beat me to it. Yours was better than mine too.
posted by Songdog at 10:29 AM on January 8, 2003


"You are in a little maze of twisty passages, all different."
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:30 AM on January 8, 2003


Awww, Slithy_Tove beat me to it. . .

Somebody set us up the bomb. . .LMAO.

Or, how about: Inspected by #14 ?
posted by SentientAI at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2003


Maybe life is God's form of a Post-It Note -

Things to do Today:
Appear in a tortilla in Mexico City
Make another televangelist go bald
Make nice sunset
posted by Locke at 10:43 AM on January 8, 2003


The blue screen of death.
posted by oflinkey at 10:45 AM on January 8, 2003


42
posted by briank at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2003


Use once and destroy.
posted by starvingartist at 11:17 AM on January 8, 2003


Doh!
posted by LowDog at 11:45 AM on January 8, 2003


Made in Taiwan.
posted by BobFrapples at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2003


PARDON OUR PROGRESS
posted by fuq at 11:51 AM on January 8, 2003


"Nothing to see here, please move along."
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:32 PM on January 8, 2003


mr._crash_davis-
I really had no idea that Dan Rather was such a weirdo. I don't really watch him- I am more of a ITN lady. But wow. I guess I need to start. Thank you for the link.
posted by oflinkey at 12:38 PM on January 8, 2003


"TAP GENOME FOR ACTION"
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:17 PM on January 8, 2003


Some variation of this
posted by Fezboy! at 1:37 PM on January 8, 2003


"Meal Ready To Eat - Self-Heating"
posted by IshmaelGraves at 1:48 PM on January 8, 2003


"Help! I'm held hostage in a fortune cookie factory!"
posted by muckster at 1:54 PM on January 8, 2003


"Click here to skip intro"

"Objects in base pairs are closer than they appear"

" DEAR FRIEND, I AM WRITING TO YOU FROM THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA..."
posted by AccordionGuy at 2:08 PM on January 8, 2003


"We apologise for the inconvenience"
posted by nkyad at 3:03 PM on January 8, 2003


"Dell"
posted by Espoo2 at 3:57 PM on January 8, 2003


Devil'sAdvocate, adding redundancy, or using something like a Hamming Code would prolong the legibility of the message. And uv czurse tome errkrs fan be qve6come through the sheer redundancy of English orthography. (It's just occurred to me that English is more resistant to corruption that Chinese).

SNACKEr, Hungarian notation is evil. Don't make me come over there and explain by force...
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:05 PM on January 8, 2003


"If this label is removed, your warranty is void."
"Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate."
"Buy one - get another one free."
"What're you looking at?"
"Accept no substitutes."
"Slippery when wet."
"You are here."
"No U-turns."
posted by Opus Dark at 4:18 PM on January 8, 2003


"Contents under pressure"
posted by jokeefe at 4:50 PM on January 8, 2003


"INCREASE YOUR PENIS SIZE..."
posted by Wet Spot at 4:59 PM on January 8, 2003


"Yes."
posted by muckster at 5:21 PM on January 8, 2003


"No."
posted by krazykity16 at 5:31 PM on January 8, 2003


"Disco Sucks"
posted by horsewithnoname at 6:14 PM on January 8, 2003


so long and thanks for all the fish.
posted by ShawnString at 6:36 PM on January 8, 2003


"Our tenth caller will receive tickets to Supertramp!"
"Eat up Martha"
posted by krisjohn at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2003


"Rosebud"
posted by muckster at 8:50 PM on January 8, 2003


"GATTACA SUCKED"
posted by Vidiot at 11:11 PM on January 8, 2003


oflinkey, that's the best part about Dan Rather. He just is so delightfully strange. There was a week or so when he would stare balefully into the camera and intone "Courage" at the end of each newscast. Then for a while he wore a cardigan on the air. Plus, there are all the folksy West Texas sayings he comes up with. And when he gets stressed, clothes come off. (First the tie is loosened, then removed, then the jacket comes off...if we tune in one afternoon and see him in his boxers, we know Armageddon has arrived.)

A friend of mine watches him every night, saying that Rather is so tightly wound that he's gonna snap on-air eventually, and he wants to be watching him when it finally happens.


(/hijack)
posted by Vidiot at 11:15 PM on January 8, 2003


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