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Harvard scientists successfully recorded five frames of Eadweard Muybridge’s 1887 galloping horse on living bacteria, and retrieved the images in sequence. The New York Times states that this is the “first movie ever to be encoded in the DNA of a living cell.” Researchers used the CRISPR system to add the sequential DNA snippets.
One of the scientists, Harvard Medical School synthetic biologist Seth Shipman, told the journal Nature that he was interested in a way to record how cells in the brain take on their identities. The researchers’ paper, called “CRISPR–Cas encoding of a digital movie into the genomes of a population of living bacteria,” was published July 12 in Nature. The team explains how encoding images in Escherichia coli (E. coli) played into a scientific need:
When harnessed, this system has the potential to write arbitrary information into the genome. Here we use the CRISPR–Cas system to encode the pixel values of black and white images and a short movie into the genomes of a population of living bacteria. In doing so, we push the technical limits of this information storage system and optimize strategies to minimize those limitations.
They add that by “combining the principles of information storage in DNA with DNA-capture systems capable of functioning in living cells, we can create living organisms that capture, store, and propagate information over time.” In other words, there’s a possibility to create living hard drives that are stable and sequential.
Ed Yong at the Atlantic points out that recording information in DNA is far from new, it’s “effectively what living things have been doing since the dawn of life itself.” Nevertheless, the purposeful use of DNA for digital data storage is innovative, and follows previous experiments in encoding DNA with books and static images. The Muybridge film, and its ability to be retrieved in chronological order, represents another step in these storage capabilities.
As researchers Shipman and Harvard professor George Church explain in the video below, the choice of Muybridge’s horse wasn’t random, but recalled the photographer’s pioneering experiments in understanding nature, and instills biological movement in another living thing. As Church says, “A horse galloping is biological information over time, and is one of the first examples of recording any motion, especially biological motion.”
To showcase this work exactly 500 years after Magellan’s conquest of the Philippines in a space that, 134 years ago, was a “human zoo” of Indigenous people from the Philippines, is certainly poignant.
Since 2014, Alison has been visually dissecting Monique Wittig’s novel The Lesbian Body, which theorizes the split subjectivity women experience in language, an inherently patriarchal structure.
This exhibition in Great Falls, Montana addresses the concept of intention in contemporary fiber art and its complex relationship with the history of women’s art as craft.
N.I.H., short for No Humans Involved, was an acronym used by the LAPD to refer to “young Black males who belong to the jobless category of the inner-city ghettos.”
Cha, who was murdered at 31 years old, explored the nuances of forced migration and language.
Explore new avenues in artistic practice and scholarship amongst a diverse cohort of peers while gaining leadership skills both academically and professionally.
Taping a banana wasn’t enough, so the art world had to do something even more stupid with food.
Stoner jokes, unexpected pop culture references, and an unlikely love story jangle against each other like charms on a bracelet.
In this exhibition, curated by Patrick Flores and presented by Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Paiwan artist Sakuliu reflects on interspecies co-sharing and coexistence.
The plans for Munger Hall may just be the most ruthlessly efficient way to house 4500 students.
The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation says tribal leaders were not consulted regarding the relocation of the statue.
The autumn holiday of Sukkot continues to offer solace and community for new generations.