Biomimetic file 174: Bacteriological Storage

Why planning ahead is important to avoid reaching the critical saturation point

content-1465829651-shutterstock-149312621Image: anyaivanova/Shutterstock.  Colonies of bacteria. The critical saturation point* is here defined by the point beyond which an activity/service/business can no longer be sustained because the very core on which it depends has reached its limit.

Highlight:“as revealed in a new paper in Science, colonies of bacteria have been converted into information-storing critters – or, to put it another way, biological hard drives…this new technique is able to encode roughly 100 bytes of data, a 73-fold increase in storage capacity…Rather than synthesizing DNA and cutting it into a living cell, the study wanted to know if it was possible to use nature’s own methods to write directly onto the genome of a bacterial cell…This way, if the bacterium replicated as it normally would, the information would be copied down through the generation. When this data is stored in a hard drive that could theoretically keep increasing in size over time, scientists could read it by examining its genome any time they wished, using any of the bacteria in the colony…”

Insight: The future of information storage will depend on biological systems and a good reason for that relies on the fact that we are simply reaching physical capacity of many materials currently in use for storage devices. This means that we can no longer (or at least not much longer) miniaturize and/or improve storage capacity due to the properties of the elements.

A recent study came up with the chocking discovery that we could in fact store the entire data generated by our civilization to date (and that is a lot of information!) in a single drop of fluid containing strands of DNA. If we put this point into the current context of the hundreds or thousands of major data centers around the world and the enormous amount of energy being used to power them, that offers a lot of hope not just in terms of storage capacity but also sustainable development.

There is only so much that conventional technology can achieve towards improving current systems and many of them are heading towards their limits. It appears evident that natural systems are an unavoidable part of the solutions going forward in what could be seen as a fifth revolution…

In business, favorable situations are rarely to last and determining the saturation point can be a difficult but a necessary exercise. Large scale examples would include aspects such as natural resources on which many businesses depend entirely (e.g. oil reserves, various metals…). While some companies would spend fortunes trying to assess this critical point in order to know until when the business can continue to operate without major restructuring, smaller issues for many companies are usually not dealt with the same level of concern resulting in simply not knowing where the critical saturation points stands…

Examples of processes and aspects which may be reaching a problematic saturation point:

  • Microprocessors and their processing power;
  • Fiber-optics and their ability to transport a certain amount of data;
  • Binomial computer codes;
  • Certain highways and their ability to take-in traffic effectively;
  • Batteries and their ability to handle heat;

Does your business deal with certain elements that are prone to reach their limits? If so, perhaps ensure to know (or a least try to better understand) where the critical saturation point stands and meanwhile prepare an alternative plan to take over once this point is about to be reached….

More information: here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species or natural systems on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

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