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Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ Preserved in DNA

Deep Purple
Daniel Liebl, Getty Images

Deep Purple’s classic “Smoke on the Water” has been preserved in DNA for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Archive.

With help from Twist Bioscience and Microsoft, the organization led an experimental procedure that marks the first time DNA has been used to record information. It’s part of work that’s underway that uses DNA as a secure long-term medium.

A recording from the Montreux Jazz Festival archive was encoded using the nucleod bases known as A, C, G and T, from which all biological life is built. “This is a very exciting project,” Bill Peck, chief technology officer of Twist Biotech, told Firstpost. “We are now in an age where we can use the remarkable efficiencies of nature to archive master copies of our cultural heritage in DNA.”

Deoxyribonucleic acid can remain in a stable condition for thousands of years, and is immune from emerging technologies that supersede storage formats that have been used in the past. DNA storage takes up very little space – the report claims that the entire Montreux archive, extending to six petabytes, could be saved in a DNA container smaller than a grain of rice. It’s also very easy to copy.

“As we develop the economies of this process, new performances can be added any time,” Peck said. “Unlike current storage technologies, nature’s media will not change, and will remain readable through time. There will be no new technology to replace DNA – nature has already optimized the format.”

“Smoke on the Water” was written in 1971 as Deep Purple’s eyewitness reaction to the Montreux Casino burning down during a Frank Zappa performance. It’s remained a key part of the band’s live shows in the decades since then.

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