Scientists Convert a 53,000-Word Book Into DNA – Pros & Cons

It is so amazing to read that Sriram Kosuri and Harvard University researchers have successfully transformed a 53,426-word book into DNA. Now, we all know that DNA is the substance that provides the genetic template for all living things. Lets see how they made it possible along with its pros and cons.


The idea of the experiment was to demonstrate the viability of storing large amounts of data on DNA molecules. Since the data is recorded on individual nucleobase pairs in the DNA strand (AG-CT pairs).

The books content included the text as well as 11 images and a javascript program, and converted it to binary code. Then they assigned every 0 and 1 a nucleobase.

After that came the heavy lifting: synthesizing the DNA strand, which would be 5.27 million bases long. They made the journey by splitting it into baby steps, each 96 bases long. When they were done, the book was a tiny speck of synthesized DNA that had about one-millionth the weight of a grain of sand.


  • There’s the cost — DNA-sequencing equipment is very expensive.
  • The data is unchangeable once it’s encoded.
  • DNA is strictly a write-once medium.
  • DNA data storage still has a long way to go before it makes an appearance in the local Best Buy or Radioshack


  • The achievement could eventually lead to the mass adoption of DNA as a long-term storage medium.
  • High storage density
  • Longevity is excellent
  • DNA lasts for thousands of years (or even millions, if it’s trapped in amber).
  • Very helpful to our future generations since DNA is basis of all life and future societies. They will obviously have the technology to read them.
  • Commercially available DNA-sequencing technology made the book easier to read
  • After arranging the sequence, it was easy to decode it back to binary code, and then the complete book as an HTML file with minimal errors – 10 bits out of 5.27 million only.
  • DNA can actually store more information per cubic millimeter than flash memory or even some experimental storage techs.

So, this may be the world’s only modern biology book that costs 1000s of dollars to read as well as write. What do you think about it?

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