This unusual microbe can become an "eternal" data carrier

An experiment has been launched at Harvard University without a specified completion date, since it is potentially measured in millennia. The author of the idea is the artist and philosopher Joe Davis, who believes that he has found the ideal candidate for the role of the eternal data carrier. He recorded two arrays of information in the DNA of the microbe Halobacterium salinarum, the safety of which he will check for several years in a row to make sure that the carrier is stable.

Davis's idea is not new; experiments with the preservation of arbitrary amounts of information in the DNA of various living organisms have already taken place in the past. But each time scientists came to a dead end - life is changeable by nature, errors accumulate in the DNA molecule, mutations occur and the safety of data cannot be guaranteed. And the microbe Halobacterium salinarum, which has adapted to life in extremely salty solutions, gives such a chance.

Halobacterium salinarum is an archaea that not only survives in a salty environment, but goes into a kind of suspended animation. Until the salinity decreases and nutrients appear, it ceases to function. At this time, the DNA of the microbe replicates with an extremely low frequency, there are no conditions for the appearance of mutations, and the information in the molecule can remain unchanged for a very long time. This has already been confirmed experimentally.

Scientists still know too little about the metabolism of archaea to design ready-made memory cards based on them. Years of observation and analysis are needed, and for the first project, elements of the Russian folk tale about Koschey the Immortal were chosen - a 3D model in the form of a needle and an egg, the diagrams of which were recorded in the microbe's DNA. Scientists have placed samples of microbes-carriers in salt and will periodically double-check the integrity of the data.