This week, Sander Wuyts, a Ph.D. student from the University of Antwerp (UAntwerp) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) completed an extraordinary competition that involved bitcoin and DNA-related research. Wuyts was the first to decipher hidden messages in a tube of DNA in a scientific challenge where he won a single bitcoin for his accomplishment.
Storing Data In DNA
Sander Wuyts considers himself a "DNA-junkie," and he's a big believer in science and technology. Back in 2015, the European Bioinformatics Institute professor, Nick Goldman, gave a presentation at the World Economic Forum in Davos that showed how DNA was an excellent method for storing data. Goldman says that DNA can last longer than existing thumb drives and today's standard storage technology.
"Unlike a memory stick, for example, DNA lasts for a long time, long after the death of the 'owner' — It's also very compact: you can store an incredible amount of information in a minuscule space," explains Goldman.
Discovering the Magic of Cryptocurrencies
Following the presentation, Goldman started a contest for students called the "DNA Storage Bitcoin Challenge." The competition involved individuals trying to decipher messages in a tube of DNA, and the deadline was January 21, 2018. When Goldman launched the contest, a bitcoin was only worth a few hundred dollars, and now the DNA contest prize was worth over $11,000. At the end of the professor's presentation, sample tubes were handed out in Davos, and the tubes contained "the necessary information to claim the one bitcoin."