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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Lights, Action, CRISPR
Hugh Bollinger

Lights, Action, CRISPR

Eadweard Muybridge galloping horse animation, 1887

The applications of CRISPR technology continue to boggle the mind. The rate at which this DNA manipulation tool are being applied is astonishing with some uses seemly pulled from the pages of SciFi novels.

In a 'viral video', CRISPR researchers inserted a snippet of manufactured DNA code into a bacteria and then played back an old movie. Investigators at the Wyss Institute and the Harvard Medical School in Boston engineered a CRISPR system that enables the embedding of digital data, from a photograph or movie, into a living bacterium. Their results were published in Nature. They explain their approach and objectives:

The Harvard demonstration used the earliest example of an animated film, a 5-frame sequence of a galloping horse captured in 1887 by Eadweard Muyubridge, as its visual reference. Muybridge is considered a pioneer of motion photography and one of the earliest animators. His images were created to illustrate his ground-breaking book, Human and Animal Locomotion. For the new CRISPR recording system, the researchers utilized the chemical bases of A (adenine), T (thymine), C (cytosine) and G (guanine), the building blocks of DNA. They created a new DNA sequence of these chemicals to correspond to the individual gray pixel tones of the original Muybridge scene. The new code was introduced into a bacterial colony to grow and multiply.

In announcing their CRISPR recording method for data storage, the investigators demonstrated a 'proof of concept' to show that their technology could work. When the CRISPR-encoded DNA was extracted from the bacteria, the introduced DNA sequences replayed the digital motion photographs of the 1887 animation. If Muybridge were alive today, the visualization pioneer might well be creating 'viral videos' of his own in a DNA lab. WHB

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