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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

biological computers - DNA pictures

Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute and Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have taken biological computing one step further, with a new molecular machine capable of decoding images stored on a DNA chip. Though it's referred to as a "biological computer," the researchers' machine isn't much like a CPU at all -- unless your CPU was manufactured in a test tube filled with a smoothie of DNA molecules, enzymes and ATP. Once they found the right mix, the team proceeded to encrypt images on a DNA chip and used their Turing machine-like creation to decode them, with fluorescent stains helping to track its progress. The above image, read from left to right, gives a more literal idea of what the system can do -- basically, it takes a hidden image and extracts a given sequence. Storing data on DNA isn't anything new, but decrypting said data in this fashion apparently is. The applications for this kind of organic computing remain a bit fuzzy, but it's pretty clear that whatever follows probably won't look anything like a typical computer. The team's findings were recently published in a paper for the journal Angewandte Chemie, the abstract for which is linked below. For a slightly more readable explanation, check out the full press release after the break. "We are biological computers with ram and a hard drive. Ram is the present and the hard drive is the past. In hindsight is where the human experience evokes its self. It is when we pull from that hard drive that we experience consensus in the sense that what we pull is imperfect and we have to fill in the blanks with either truth or with our own make believe. It is that difference that makes life magical or devastating." DUDE12NOTHIN

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