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Researchers Create Logic Circuits From DNA

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the growing-a-faster-computer dept.

Biotech 94

separsons writes "Researchers at Duke University recently used DNA to craft tiny chips used in computers and electronic circuits. By mixing DNA snippets with other molecules and exposing them to light, researchers created self-assembling, DNA-based logic circuits. Once perfected the tech could serve as an endlessly abundant, cheap alternative to silicon semiconductors. Chris Dwyer, lead researcher on the project, says that one grad student using DNA to make self-assembling circuits could produce more logic circuits in one day than the global silicon chip industry can create in an entire month!"

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Yes but does it run Linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187672)

frosty poo

Mass production would be simple... (3, Informative)

The Mysterious Dr. X (1502541) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187674)

All you need is a little polymerase chain reaction. I assume that's how the grad student could outdo the global silicon chip industry as mentioned in the article summary.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (4, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187712)

That and grad students can be made to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for nearly no pay.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187756)

The grad student doesn't need to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (the no pay part is surprisingly easy to get a grad student to do though...). The DNA mechanisms that he sets up need to. Once he sets it up who is to say that this technology, once improved, won't be largely autonomous?

Re:Mass production would be simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187894)

Well, you wouldn't want it to be fully autonomous... you'd want a computer overseeing the process.

What better way to make such a computer than by using this process?

Re:Mass production would be simple... (3, Funny)

Alphathon (1634555) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187960)

So this is how the robot apocalypse is to start eh? Well, I for one...you get the idea.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32190920)

So this is how the robot apocalypse is to start eh? Well, I for one...you get the idea.

Indeed... Self-replicating DNA-based nanobots. It's got planet-scale disaster written all over it. It's not hard to imagine what a planet infested with such things might soon look like... A total mess covered in DNA-nanobot-goo.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193424)

Yeah, solar powered nano DNA based replicators. I can imagine those, I'll tell you that thing looks WILD!

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

shiftless (410350) | more than 4 years ago | (#32197838)

It's not hard to imagine what a planet infested with such things might soon look like...

the worst part is when they begin to hunger for YOUR dna... hey i think i have an idea for a new horror movie

Re:Mass production would be simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32206074)

the worst part is when they begin to hunger for YOUR dna

You must be new here - this is Slashdot, nothing is hungering for our DNA...

Re:Mass production would be simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32192344)

I, for one, welcome our self-replicating, computer overlords.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#32205982)

terminators, screamers, replicators, the borg, you always see a trace of whats to come with technology if you look close enough, we follow our dreams and ideas because a) we are influenced by other people and then take it to the next level cellphones = star trek like communicators....
or 2) we get a great idea and it changes hands and processes so many times that we have a spawn of unlimited amounts to clutter our world with ...example = the car, started off as a means to get you from point a to point b, and now how many versions of cars exists and do we really need this many choices...seems to me it not only clutters all the scrap yards with junk metal, but also makes it very evident we do not build something to last, and keep, we throw away after consuming....

So our robots will follow this same line, however we have a slight difference where the slight possibility for self awareness will allow the robots to see this nature and then reconstruct themselves to last longer then we made them, once tossed into scrap yards they could go there to reinforce their numbers....and allow their own private work force to increase in size....and eventually as with any other species, because now self aware robots are considered entities of their own volition, they will enter in competition for space and being that they will have access to our history will notice the patterns that have and understand that if ever they enter in competition with us for space, we will attack and destroy and rape and pillage...so they would have no choice but by design to strategically hit us first.....

I think I robot was closer to what could happen then any other movies, being we would never know what was going to happen until it finished happening and the dust settled, and we were extinct ...or almost.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (2, Informative)

The Mysterious Dr. X (1502541) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188320)

The PCR part is already largely autonomous. Throw all the ingredients into the mix, heat it up to a certain temperature in a warm bath, cool it off, heat it up again, cool it off again... You get the idea. Each cycle doubles the amount of DNA produced. All you have to do is make sure there's enough ingredients in the mix; most versions of the equipment can do the heating-cooling cycles themselves.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (3, Insightful)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187790)

This has certainly been the case in some disciplines, at some institutions. But it's much less common in disciplines where graduate students already have significant hiring potential (e.g. Computer Science), and doesn't happen at all where they've unionized.

Unionization of graduate students actually happened while I was in grad school myself. It stopped some appalling abuses dead in their tracks. My department was an excellent one to work for, but many were pretty slimy. Not only were grads in some departments terribly overworked, but some shady practices were going on where hiring lines were split between several grads who were each doing overtime level work.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188170)

This has certainly been the case in some disciplines, at some institutions. But it's much less common in disciplines where graduate students already have significant hiring potential (e.g. Computer Science)

Really, then why can't I get a friggen job!!!

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189172)

Nobody can! WHOOP WHOOP!

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32190814)

I did. I'm not exactly the brightest bulb from the factory. If I can get a job, pretty much anyone can. That said, I applied for 47 jobs within a 3 month period. Most people I graduated haven't even reached double digits in jobs they've applied for. Unsurprisingly, most of the people I graduated with also aren't employed.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (3, Interesting)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188222)

If this stuff became sentient, then would it think it was a grad student?

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191952)

As impressive as it would be to create a sentient life form it would be useless as a grad student until it achieved sapience.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32188982)

I believe they call that an internship

Re:Mass production would be simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32188118)

Imagine the implications this could have for the Chinese bootleg black market!
Just find some stem cells, add water and bam! you have now cloned your own Blackberry.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (2, Funny)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189386)

I, for one, welcome our new Cylon overlords.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (1)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191526)

The 1.2 zettabytes quoted recently as the sum of the world's memory works out as about 1/8th of a gram-mole of bits. This does give an idea how much memory you might get from a few grammes of material if you get a 3D structure. If you are stuck to a single surface, the density figures won't be as good. Richard Feynmann gave a talk in 1959 called "Plenty of room at the bottom" (see http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/feynman.html [zyvex.com] ). His figures haven't really aged much: if you can get something to work at the molecular scale, then you can get a lot of them in. The idea of doing this isn't particularly new. Actually doing it would be a lot more exciting.

Re:Mass production would be simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32203510)

two words ... Mandrid Drone

Johnny 5 (2, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187676)

Johnny 5 is alive.

Re:Johnny 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187726)

I understand this joke often gets +5 Funny, even though I don't know what it refers to. So here I go:
No disassemble Johnny 5!

Short Circuit Movies (2, Informative)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187788)

> I understand this joke often gets +5 Funny, even though I don't know what it refers to. So here I go:
> No disassemble Johnny 5!

It's from a 1986 movie, Short Circuit. (There was also a sequel). Fun old family movie about an experimental robot developing a personality. In the second one, there are also bank robbers.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091949/ [imdb.com]

DNA developing into a robot is the other way round, of course.

Re:Short Circuit Movies (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32190104)

Nah, a person with a great personality then suffering massive head and/or emotional trauma (a la Iraq war vet) and becoming a cold, uncaring, and indifferent individual would seem like the opposite of Short Circuit.

Re:Short Circuit Movies (1)

asukasoryu (1804858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32192990)

You mean Robocop.

One grad student (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187680)

Chris Dwyer, lead researcher on the project, says that one grad student using DNA to make self-assembling circuits could produce more logic circuits in one day than the global silicon chip industry can create in an entire month!"

Which grad student?

Re:One grad student (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32189448)

Exactly!

Re:One grad student (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32190144)

The One.

I'm working on a new horror movie. (2, Funny)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187682)

It's a about two nerds who get lost while travelling in Germany. On a dark and rainy night, their car breaks down. Looking for help, they end up knocking at the door of a creepy mad scientist obsesed with Nanotechnology.

I call it "The Human Semiconductor"

Re:I'm working on a new horror movie. (3, Funny)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187782)

I think you need to substitute the two nerds with two college girls. Then one of them is held hostage by the mad scientist. So, the other one had to run back for help from her sorority sisters. Some of whom are chemistry or physics majors with a fascination for big guns and fast cars.

Re:I'm working on a new horror movie. (1)

bragr (1612015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187938)

I think that I've seen that porno. Perhaps I've said too much.

Re:I'm working on a new horror movie. (2, Funny)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189236)

I like the way your mind thinks

One grad student producing DNA... (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187692)

one grad student using DNA to make self-assembling circuits could produce more logic circuits in one day than the global silicon chip industry can create in an entire month!

The jokes just write themselves.

You fucking karma whore! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187876)

You fucking karma whore! Power-hungry insecure fucking karma whore!

Re:You fucking karma whore! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188012)

Okay, while I don't give a rats ass about karma, 'karma whore' is at least connected to reality. But 'power hungry'? WTF? Dude, if bad masturbation jokes were a way to acquire power, I'd be Emperor of the Galaxy. But they ain't and I'm not so again WTF?

Re:You fucking karma whore! (1)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188568)

"bad masturbation jokes"

The jokes just write themselves.

Re:You fucking karma whore! (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188844)

Fap your way to a Fortune 500 company. fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.fap.

Re:You fucking karma whore! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188938)

Yeah, that they do.

Re:You fucking karma whore! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189186)

You know you don't get karma for +n funny right?

let me start (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188178)

This involves a lot of uhh... manual labour. Would his hand get tired?

Re:let me start (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188850)

Manual can't even get out of Arizona.

Mod UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32189024)

Nerds love good puns, amirite?

Did they use DNA from women? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187716)

Just wondering.

Re:Did they use DNA from women? (5, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187728)

Did they use DNA from women?

Of course not.
They're building logic gates.

Re:Did they use DNA from women? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32188394)

Oh I dunno female DNA would be a shoein for flipflops.

Re:Did they use DNA from women? (1)

jedimark (794802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189502)

A triple entendre with a pun attached.. You sir deserved a medal.

Re:Did they use DNA from women? (1)

stifler9999 (1184283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32191080)

And a recently developed logic gate called the "fine" gate. Apparently it emulates quantum mechanics, you feed logic in and you get a "fine" output (1 and 0). The output will actually be a NOT of what you expected. However the moment you read it, the "fine" gate output cannot be changed.

so did their parents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187718)

and THEIR parents, and THEIR parents, and THEIR parents....

Logic circuits from DNA... (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187720)

thus giving a whole new meaning to the term "computer virus"!

Re:Logic circuits from DNA... (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189162)

well as long as they don't get windows ported to the DNA processor, we should be fine. but I guess it wouldn't suck as much as having OSX ported to DNA... you'd have to have AT&T be your carrier (would that be in human term be a wheel chair?)... unless you jailbrake... but wouldn't that get into matrix like scenarios? maaan, sounds like a crazy problem potentially, what could potentially go wrong?

Re:Logic circuits from DNA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32189984)

Wouldn't computer viruses be RNA circuits?

Re:Logic circuits from DNA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32190198)

Why is this not modded insightful? It actually makes sense. When I was in college I was pre-med/Comp Eng, and was taking a theory of computation class along with a biology class.

The Bio class was studying protein synthesis, and it was amazing - when a certain condition is met (a certain molecule/hormone/protein's concentration meets a certain threshold) a protein is formed that will exactly fit a certain spot on the RNA/DNA chain and start synthesizing another protein until it meets a "stop" codon, at which point it breaks off. The new protein could synthesize other proteins or it could perform a specific task. It's almost exactly like a function call on a CPU or a decision on a Von Neuman tape.

DNA/RNA very closely resembles a Von Neuman architecture, which can be converted to Turing Machines, which can be converted to computer programs. The parent's "joke" is actually a bit too accurate to be strictly funny.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187758)

I for one welcome our new Self-Assembling DNA Overlords...

Lead Researchers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187768)

And lead researchers would never overstate the impact of their research, would they?

The job of those of us doing research is to make large claims and have BIG RESULTS! Most of us are all for the research, but tired of the need for justification that involves serious overstatement. Just saying....

Re:Lead Researchers (1)

The Hatchet (1766306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32192444)

sure, one day v. 1 year of chip making is a bit of an overstatement. But if this is perjected, computer technology will certainly be on its way to becoming yet smaller, faster, and better. However, no matter how efficiently we make things, it will never be cheaper. Why? Because they will just mark it up even higher than whats already out there to make more money. And when asked "if they are so cheap to make, why don't you sell that are more reasonable prices" they will say "to cover 'costs'" which will be made up bullshit, or commodity trading over necessary supplies will drive up the price. All of that money will end up in the financial sector, everyone who does good work will recieve the same crap pay, and everyone who needs cheaper, better electronics had better wait in line to get ass raped by the company with the billion percent markup.

I see no reason why a consumer should ever be excited about advances in technology, the prices for the top of the line (even if it is the cheapest to produce) will always be unaffordably high, and will always increase. Meanwhile they extra money made pumps up the financial sector and causes more inflation, making our money worth even less. The electronics and entertainment industry has successfully evaded market forces, simply because ever company in the industry enjoys charging shitloads of money for every item they sell, and not just reasonable for profit.

The simple fact is that all of the wonderful, great discoveries of the past few years don't matter. They don't matter to consumers, to producers, to anyone, except for the financial sector. They trade in anything and everything, and can milk every single industry for insane amounts of money just by trading up the price of raw ingredients or companies that make parts for the final product. The works don't see better pay, the consumers don't see lower prices. Sure technology is advancing, and it makes minor improvements in our lives, but everything costs more and more every day while everyone makes less and less. Everyone except for the top brass of large companies, and anyone that does any kind of work in the financial sector.

Tsch (1)

ebystander (1810248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187792)

Tsch, Jesus did this like 100 years ago.

Re:Tsch (1)

bragr (1612015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187948)

Troll or funny. I'm not sure which.

Density? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32187832)

I'd be curious to see a comparison of the density of this tech vs our current silicon based chips.

DIdn't Star Trek Voyager teach us anything? (5, Funny)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187868)

Bio-neural gel packs SOUND like a good idea, but when cheese can take a federation starship out of commission, I start wondering about how good an idea this is to pursue.

Re:DIdn't Star Trek Voyager teach us anything? (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188152)

Yes. Star Trek:Voyager taught us many, many things - all dealing with how to kill a formerly great franchise.

Re:DIdn't Star Trek Voyager teach us anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32188638)

I think the last two seasons of DS9 gave the blueprint for Voyagers :D

Coincidentally I had just dug out my 10+ year old Jackill's Tech Manuals (Vol 1-3) and Star Fleet Technology Guide from out of storage :D

Re:DIdn't Star Trek Voyager teach us anything? (2, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189554)

You Sir are a cretin... I give you Seven-Of-Nine.....

I don't remember one damn episode after all this time, but I can recall every single stitch of her costume.........

Re:DIdn't Star Trek Voyager teach us anything? (2, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188184)

but when cheese can take a federation starship out of commission

Brings a whole new definition to turning your brain into swiss cheese!

Re:DIdn't Star Trek Voyager teach us anything? (2)

n dot l (1099033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188262)

Voyager also teaches us that aliens are basically humans with a good costume department.

I'd be more worried about space-based asteroid-eating critters deciding they should nibble on the hull. Those would at least be in an environment that's vaguely similar to the one they evolved in.

Alien cheese culture finding our particular chemistry tasty, our particular temperature and pH range livable, and having means to evade our immune responses is pretty damn unlikely...

Brings to mind the defintion of logic.... (1)

spinninggears (551247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32187954)

LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion — thus: Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man. Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore — Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second. This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed. From Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

A new family of processors. (2, Funny)

tzot (834456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188004)

Literally, that is.

And a chance for radically different model names. For example, the slowest DNA-based model will be called "cousin Jed" or something.

Re:A new family of processors. (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188862)

Literally, that is.

And a chance for radically different model names. For example, the slowest DNA-based model will be called "cousin Jed" or something.

Are you sure it isn't Jethro?

Re:A new family of processors. (1)

tzot (834456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258110)

I do have a cousin Jethro, you insensitive clod!

Reading information (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188008)

Ok, so we have a nice way of creating logic gates in DNA. But how long does it take to read the entire string of results back to a digital/electronic format?

Re:Reading information (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32196406)

I think the point is you don't have to. One chromospore emits light that is received by another chromospore, which then transmits it to another. Each time, the wavelength of light changes.

Problem being, this isn't a 3-terminal gating effect. I'm having a difficult time imagining how they make logic gates from this.

Temp range? Durability? (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188020)

Hmmm. I'm thinking these DNA based gates would be fussy, needing a comfy environment to run in.
Also, how many cycles can they handle before falling apart?

PCR reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32188046)

Anyone can run a PCR reaction. Doubles everytime.

What a load of cobblers (4, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188220)

As Turing might say: What a load of cobblers

While you might be able to make ten gazillion AND gates, you still have the minor problem of HOOKING THEM UP into some useful logical building blocks, like adders, buffers, and memory. And the bigger problem of amplifying the results to a level acceptable to the following inputs. And figuring out how to distribute power (ATP) to each amplifier.

And the signal levels are so low, thermal noise is going to induce a lot more errors than you'd like.

And the speed is not likely to be very exciting.

I would not start short-selling Intel stock based on this technology.

Re:What a load of cobblers (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188918)

Depending on the use speed might not be a big issue if you can build the circuits for 100,000th the cost...

Re:What a load of cobblers (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189608)

Maybe so, but you would need some pretty damn good error correction. I would imagine running the same calculation many many times to check you were getting the same result.

This is an organic system we are talking about. Correct me if I am wrong, but organic systems are all about approximation and adaptation, not exact values.

Re:What a load of cobblers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32189106)

... and as Mauchly said, "if you wanted it to work you wouldn't let Alan near it."

Re:What a load of cobblers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32190238)

Not totally true. DNA and RNA are traditionally dissected into "codons" by geneticists, which correspond pretty closely to individual instructions on a CPU, with synthesis proteins being the "CPU" that interprets them. And while getting complex chains of nucleic acid to fit together in an automated fashion can be difficult it's far from impossible. (our cells do it every day...)

It's completely feasible that stations could be made that would generate segments of DNA, RNA, or proteins that could then be sent to other stations for fairly error-free combination. The combined results can be filtered by density, volume, charge signature, etc in a fairly automated fashion as well, and then we do it all again. Not long after that you start taking the combination process that was previously manual and develop proteins that can do even that part for you.

It gets harder to stay accurate as the structures get larger (hey, DNA mutations happen a lot, but I'll bet without citation that it's less than fabrication errors at the silicon plants), but it's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to make proteins that can verify the results as well. I think this has possibilities.

Re:What a load of cobblers (1)

The Hatchet (1766306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32192522)

The article was about using DNA to build logic gates and processor pieces that were very small, on the order of just a few molecules, kind of like DNA making proteins. The next step is putting these elements together to build circuitry. DNA already puts together insane life forms that have millions of parts all working together. We are made using DNA. It is not our primary ingredient, but DNA builds us. That is the goal here, build circuits.

Re:What a load of cobblers (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193210)

The advantaje of using DNA is that it hooks toghether with just the addition of an enzyme. You can also control what hooks on what by controlling the sequence, and it is easy to manufacture on any sequence you want (for some value of "easy").

That said, that is not the first time it was tried. The problem here is that using some DNA that is pure for a few parts per billion (the best we can achieve on big amounts) to manufacture one a few trillion switches big circuit (like the original Pentium at the 90's) will give you a very very very low yeld. The obvious way to increase that yeld is to purify your reactants every few steps, but after just a few hundreds of switches, it gets harder to chemically purify the circuits than to enrich uranium. And a circuit with a few hundred switches is still nearly useles.

And the correct URL... (1)

timboc007 (664810) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188382)

TFA may be found here [popsci.com.au] .

Virus (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188414)

For some reason this has got me thinking of a Sci-fi book I read when I was a kid - Virus, by Molly Brown [goodreads.com] which talks about AIs that have an organic "logic" core and are susceptible to biological viruses. Good SF for young readers.

Heat (4, Interesting)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188486)

This sounds quite promising, but I'd worry about DNA's melting point. Double stranded DNA will melt and become single stranded DNA at around 100 degrees Celsius. However, this melting point is quite variable since GC bonds are ~50% stronger than AT bonds, so the actual melting point could be much higher or much lower. AFAIK doing any sort of calculation requires heat to be produced, so I'd imagine you'd get localized melting of the DNA and disruption of the engineered structure if you did any significant amount of work on it. I'll be interested to see how they solve this problem, since you can't really do much to increase the strength or the number of hydrogen bonds.

Re:Heat (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193260)

They probably didn't solve it, since they did no usefull calculation. They just assembled a few switches.

I also doubt they were able to focus the light emanating from a switch into another one, to chain operations.

Re:Heat (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32205110)

Hey, if they can get a decent amount of computational power out of it, it would probably be economically feasible even if you had to run it in a fridge.

Programmable logic (1)

optikos (1187213) | more than 4 years ago | (#32188660)

Ah, finally low-NRE logic circuits on an immense and cheap scale a la programmable logic, but with real (not emulated) logic gates. EEs of the world unite!

Every DNS is sacred (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32189394)

For with this bottle of sperm, I can create more minions in a day than the entire US army can train in a decade

Of course, actually getting them equipped to do anything will take additional funding.

Yeah right (1)

DinZy (513280) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189548)

It's typical to overhype and exaggerate results like this. What's interesting is if it really is that easy to make reliable, robust, defect free logic circuits so easy, would it be a good thing or a bad thing economically. I'd certainly be out of a job if a grad student could magically mix up an SOC complete with electrical interconnects and packaging while his/her advisor slowly whittles away at his/her self esteem

let's walk before we run (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 4 years ago | (#32189670)

Maybe Chris could demonstrate a working logic device that doesn't rely on expensive optical components to provide the input and output (he's making optical devices, not electrical - because DNA doesn't conduct). His speed, scalability, cost... everything is dependent on the optics system he uses. It's borderline dishonest for him to sell this as a silicon replacement right now.

His waffles look nice though. Very tasty. I've seen that image many times now...

Re:let's walk before we run (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193324)

The I/O isn't a problem for some applications (really big computers). I'm more concerned about they not demonstrating any usefull gate (besides NOT) and not demonstrating those being assembled on a chain.

But they didn't show it because they aren't really trying to produce circuits. They are doing some research that could lead to another way to produce circuits on the future, if everything works as planned and somebody solves the remaining problems (that happen to be quite hard). Or, in other words, that isn't applied research.

My computer died...REALLY (1)

nowen2dot (1768088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32198992)

So this gives a whole new meaning to the phrase?
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