Innovative rock band OK Go, famous for spectacular home-made music videos, wants to encode the band’s fourth album, Hungry Ghosts, on DNA.
Lead singer Damian Kulash, who studied computer science at university, recalls the fork in the road that took him toward music: “I remember sitting with my friend and saying ‘dude, what are we going to do? Are we going to start a startup or a band?’ And at almost the exact same moment he said ‘startup’ and I said ‘band’. He sold his startup to Microsoft, so he’s got a lot more money than I do!”
But Kulash kept one foot in the science camp; he’s been working with UCLA biochemist Sriram Kosuri on genetic encoding. “I was at a conference, the Future of Storytelling, where a book had been encoded in DNA,” Kulash said, “and I was fascinated by lots of parts of that idea.”
For an album, or any data, to be encoded on DNA means translating it from binary into base 4 code, referring to the four DNA nucleotides A, C, T, and G. The album cannot be listened until it is translated back into binary, meaning the DNA acts purely as a rudimentary storage device, a fact Kulash readily admits: “It’s arbitrary as an artistic gesture, but the scientists are actually figuring out a lot of actual cryptography and biology, so it’s win-win.”
“I’ve been saying for a while now that nerds are the new rock stars, and that goes both ways,” Kulash concludes.
Source: The Guardian