Big Picture Science – DNA: Nature’s Hard Drive

by Gary Niederhoff on November 6, 2017

Big Picture Science – DNA: Nature’s Hard Drive

The biotech tool CRISPR lets us do more than shuffle genes. Researchers have embedded an animated GIF into a living organism’s DNA, proving that the molecule is a great repository for information. This has encouraged speculation that DNA could be used by aliens to send messages.

Meanwhile, nature has seized on this powerful storage system in surprising ways. Scientists have learned that the 98% of our genome – once dismissed as “junk” – contains valuable genetic treasure. Find out what project ENCODE is learning about the “dark genome.”

Plus, how viruses became the original stealth coders, inserting their DNA into ancient bacteria and eventually leading to the development of CRISPR technology. Discover the potential of this powerful tool, from curing disease to making pig organs transplant-friendly, and the possible dark side of quick-and-easy gene editing.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Paul Davies / Genetic Messages
Part 2: Yin Shen / Dark Genome
Part 3: Sam Sternberg / Using CRISPR
Part 4: Hank Greely / Unintended Consequences

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