WATCH: Human Genome Fits on Three Floppy Disks

  • Share
  • Read Later

We’re the species that visited the Moon, created countless beautiful works of art and poetry, and built skyscrapers that reached thousands of feet into the air—and everything that makes us unique can fit on three floppy disks. That’s the gist of a cool new video by Evan Anthony.

Yesterday, Anthony talked to The Atlantic about the idea behind his video “Bits and Base Pairs,” which he made using Processing, a open-source programming language popular with artists and designers.

(MORE: How You Can Change Your Genes)

His inspiration? The idea that the human genome can be compressed down to 4MB. This was first posited in 2008 in a study at the University of California, Irvine named “Human Genomes as Email Attachments,” which looked for ways to make downloading and sharing data on the human genome more manageable for researchers.

While the entire genome corresponds to about 725MB of data, the study concluded that “any two human genomes are 99% identical, so it is much more efficient to store genomes as variations from a common reference genome; therefore only that 1% of variation needs to be stored.”

That means everything that makes you … well, you, can fit on a cheap thumb drive, with room for a few of your closest friends, too. Anthony’s video does a good job of turning an idea that initially seems depressing (4MB, that’s it?) and making it seem beautiful. You can find more videos from the New York-based designer on his website.

[via The Atlantic]

MORE: The iPod Turns 10: How It Shaped Music History