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Galloping Horse

Using the CRISPR-Cas system, researchers have embedded a short movie of a galloping horse into DNA, the New York Times reports.

As they report in Nature this week, researchers led by Harvard University's George Church used the approach to encode the pixel values of black-and-white images and a short movie, frame by frame, into a population of living bacteria. As the Verge notes, it's not the first time that DNA has been used to store information — Church and colleagues previously encoded a book — but that had been in synthetic, rather than living DNA.

Church and his colleagues were then able to reconstruct a picture of a hand and movie they encoded with full and 90 percent accuracy, respectively, by sequencing that bacterial population.

Columbia University's Yaniv Erlich tells New Scientist that it "is a really neat paper," and though he notes that the researchers didn't store that much data, he says that there is potential there.

Indeed, first author Seth Shipman, also at Harvard, adds that they hope to some day use the approach to record what occurs in brain cells as the brain develops or what happens as cells become diseased.