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ExtraBITS for 28 January 2013

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Two quick bits for you to ponder this week: scientists encoding data in DNA (but it’s not cheap!) and an independent designer’s mockup of what a future Mac Pro could (but probably won’t) look like.

Unthrifty Loveliness: Shakespeare Sonnets Encoded in DNA at $12,400 per Megabyte -- Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, two scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, have worked out a system to encode text, audio, and other data in DNA. Teaming up with Aligent Technologies, the two encoded all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking, and a photograph into a synthesized DNA sample. Though Aligent did the DNA synthesizing work for free, the cost of the DNA synthesis is estimated to have been roughly $12,400 per megabyte. Luckily, prices for DNA synthesis are dropping, and it is estimated that 50 billion megabytes of text, roughly equivalent to everything ever written by humans, could be encoded into a sample that would weigh less than “a granola bar.” This takes the idea of cloning your data to an entirely new level.

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Independent Designer Imagines a Future Mac Pro -- 3D designer and illustrator Peter Zigich has posted a number of beautifully rendered mockups of what a future Mac Pro could look like, were it to use significantly more efficient CPUs. It is, of course, highly likely that Peter’s designs will bear no resemblance to what Apple is reportedly planning for this year’s Mac Pro refresh, but it’s still fun to ponder whether or not his designs could work.

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