Tag Archives: DNA

HTC DROID DNA Bootloader Can Now Be Unlocked

The HTC DROID DNA is the first smartphone to be available in the United States to feature a 5-inch 1080p HD display. The handset is the big red’s flagship handset for the holiday season. However, like all other handsets released on Verizon’s network in recent times, the DROID DNA also has a locked down bootloader.

HTC has a web-based bootloader unlocking system in place, but that does not support the DROID DNA and other recent DROID branded handsets from the Taiwanese maker.

Thankfully, some of the talented Android developers have managed to find a way to unlock the DROID DNA using HTC’s own bootloader unlocking tool. The ‘softmod’ changes the carrier information ont he DROID DNA allowing it to be unlocked easily.

So, if you own a DROID DNA and are interested in unlocking it, head over to this post on Android Police for a step-by-step guide. Keep in mind that unlocking the bootloader will void the warranty of your brand new DNA so decide if the risk is worth it or not, and proceed with caution.

HTC DROID DNA Unveiled; Comes With A 5-inch 1080p Screen!

HTC and Verizon have teamed up to announce the first Android smartphone — Droid DNA — in the United States that will sport a 5-inch S-LCD3 display with a mind-numbing full HD (1920×1080) resolution.

Inside the Droid DNA is a beefy 1.5GHz Quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro Krait processor, 2GB of RAM, an Adreno 320 GPU and more. Other features include the same 8MP BSI F/2.0 camera on the back, a Smart LED flash, an ImageSense chip, and a 1.3MP camera in the front. All the usual features that are present in HTC phones like GPS, bunch of sensors, NFC, non-removable battery, no microSD card slot are all present.

Like all other HTC’s, the Droid DNA runs on Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean with Sense 4+ on top of it. The handset also sports the Beats Audio logo, and thankfully, beefed-up amps for the rear speaker and handset.

HTC Droid DNA will be coming on Verizon’s LTE network on the 21st of November for $199 with a two-year contract. The handset will go on pre-order from today itself.

Mothers Carry Pieces of their Children—In Their Brain

Did you know that long after you’re born, your mother carries little parts of you in her body? This phenomenon is called ‘microchimerism’, the presence of foreign cells in a tissue or organ. Recent research has now found cells from the foetus in the most distal part of the mother’s body, the head.

Babies’ Cells Migrate Into Mothers’ Bodies

Microchimerism arises during pregnancy when fetal cells move into the mother’s body where they may persist and multiply for a long time. This phenomenon is how the complete sequence of a foetus’s DNA can be determined simply from the mother’s blood. The effects of these cells on the mother’s health, if any, aren’t known. Some hypothesize that these ‘foreign’ cells could trigger off the mother’s immune system leading to autoimmune diseases. Others hypothesize that these cells actually help in the repair of damaged tissues in the maternal body. The kidneys, lungs, liver, lymph nodes and the hearts of mothers have been found to contain their sons’ DNA. Do they also travel to the brain?

fetal DNA in mother's brain
The origins of microchimerism. It is during pregnancy that cells from the foetus enter the mother’s body and may persist for as long as a few decades. [Image Credit: Wikimedia commons]

Looking for Y Chromosomes in Female Brains

Firstly, let’s talk about why ‘son’s’ DNA is mentioned, but not daughters’ DNA lest scientists be accused of sexism. Males contain a copy of the Y chromosome while females don’t. Merely finding a piece of this chromosome in a woman would be sufficient to determine the presence of foreign cells (most likely to be her son’s). On the other hand, to look for a daughter’s DNA, scientist would have to look for very specific differences between the mother and the daughter’s genes.

Keeping this in mind, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle tested if a particular sequence of DNA in the Y chromosome was found in the brains of women who had sons. 63% of mothers were found to contain this segment of DNA, indicating that fetal cells do, in fact, travel all the way to the brain.

The next time your mother says you’re in her heart or on her mind, you know she means it literally. You can read about this research here.

Encoding Literature in DNA

In a couple of decades from now, your version of the Bible or Harry Potter (or the best-selling book of the 22nd century, whatever that might be) might just be stored in a small vial of liquid or on small chips. Harvard University researchers have just encoded a book in DNA fragments instead of on physical copy or e-copy.

The Alphabets of DNA

DNA is made up of building blocks called nucleotides, similar to how the English alphabet is made up of building blocks called alphabets. In the language of DNA, there are just 4 alphabets instead of 26, ‘A’, ‘T’, ‘G’ and ‘C’. Moving to information theory, each letter in DNA can thus encode 2 bits of information. Each nucleotide weighs around 250 Dalton (each Dalton weighs 1.66×10-24g). Thus, a single gram of single-stranded DNA could encode 455 exabytes (1 exabyte is 1018 bytes) of information. The previous sentence says ‘single-stranded’ because in nature, DNA molecules form two strands that wrap around each other to form a helix. Even keeping in mind this condition, a single gram of double stranded DNA could still encode around 225 exabytes, not a small number!

The four building blocks of DNA, also called bases (shown in green, red, yellow and blue) can be used as effective storage devices. [Image Credit: restlessmindboosters]

Translating English into DNAese

Encoding a book in DNA essentially means translating English into a code in a language of 4 letters. An html-encoded book called ‘Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves’ containing 53,426 words, 11 JPG images and a Javascript program has not been translated into the language of DNA. While DNA-encoding has been done on smaller scales before, the increasing ease and decreasing cost of DNA sequencing has made it possible to encode larger quantities of text in this biological molecule.

The entire book was translated onto small fragments of DNA called oligonucleotides. Each of these fragments had information from the book, and a small block with information for the ‘address’, where in the book the block belonged to. Thus, a ‘library’ of oligonucleotides is created on a DNA microchip. To ‘read’ the book, this library has to be amplified and sequenced using molecular approaches. These researchers encoded just one bit of information per DNA base instead of the maximum two, made multiple copies of the same oligonucleotide fragment so that errors could be accounted for, and still obtained a whopping density of 5.5 petabits (1015 bits) per millimeter cube.

Current costs of sequencing make this technology prohibitive.  However, the costs of DNA synthesis and sequencing are decreasing exponentially every year, making this a feasible storage molecule for the future. DNA is also stable at room temperature meaning it can be preserved for long periods. While DNA storage and retrieval is slower compared to other methods, its scale offers huge potential. It could thus be used in applications involving archival storage of massive amounts of data.

You can read more about this research here.