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Scientists at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have stored some Shakespearean sonnets and part of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech by encoding them in DNA -- a process that could preserve those famous words for millennia.

The system could stand the test of time -- tens of thousands of years, perhaps reports

This method for archiving data could make it possible to store 100 million hours of high-definition video in about a cup of DNA, according to the scientists. One gram of DNA could hold as much as information as more than a million CDs.

"It's also incredibly small, dense, and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy" said Nick Goldman of EMBL-EBI.

"[This is] incredibly durable tagging for living things -- tagging that could transcend generations," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "The most obvious use would be to record rights into genetically created plants and animals to preserve rights and prevent illegal cloning/copies."

The key to ensuring that this data can be archived and also accessed is preserving knowledge of the code. There are numerous undeciphered writing systems that could hold long lost information. However, the EMBL-EBI researchers don't think this will be a problem.

They're worked to create a code that is error tolerant in molecular form. As long as someone knows the code, the data can be read back.

"DNA as storage represents a new paradigm," said James Canton, Ph.D., of the Institute for Global Futures. "In a world generating xeobytes of data, we are facing a huge data tsunami. We're looking at ways to store, encrypt and secure all this data."

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