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Living Cells Turned Into Computers

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the resistance-is-futile dept.

Biotech 34

ananyo writes "Synthetic biologists have developed DNA modules that perform logic operations in bacteria. These 'genetic circuits' could, for example, be used by scientists to track key moments in a cell's life or, in biotechnology, to turn on production of a drug at the flick of a chemical switch. The researchers have encoded 16 logic gates in modules of DNA and stored the results of logical operations. The different logic gates can be assembled into a wide variety of circuits."

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STNG ALREADY DID IT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42889547)

nanabots !!

Re:STNG ALREADY DID IT !! (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889759)

Don't forget Greg Bear. [sfsite.com] That book is a trip-and-a-half.

Re:STNG ALREADY DID IT !! (1)

brantondaveperson (1023687) | about a year and a half ago | (#42890333)

Now there's a film adaptation I would pay money to see. Not that anyone has ever even mentioned the remotest possibility of making a film of Blood Music, but man, it needs to be done.

Re:STNG ALREADY DID IT !! (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42890613)

Forge of God
Eon
Blood Music
Dead Lines (his one ghost story).

I'd pay to see all those. I just mentioned it and the discussion was that a lot of Blood Music is internal dialog and it would be hard to represent without making it boring.

I think Dead Lines could be done in a Poltergeist-esque manner and is probably the easiest to do out of all of them.

--
BMO

multicellular cluster computing (5, Funny)

spazdor (902907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889549)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these babies.

Wait, I guess that's like basically just a person.

Re:multicellular cluster computing (1)

neoshroom (324937) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889777)

Haha. Mod this up. :)

Re:multicellular cluster computing (0)

sourcerror (1718066) | about a year and a half ago | (#42890013)

Except that your neurons don't use boolean logic. There's a good reason why humans are really bad at numerical computation.

Also, in the article they're using DNA, not neurons. The funny thing is that the DNA much more resembles the classic Turing machine than any practical computer ever built.

Re:multicellular cluster computing (1)

spazdor (902907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42890371)

Who's talking about neurons? If the 'computation' being performed is that of 'generating a phenotype' rather than something mundane like cognition, then every multicellular organism is a compute cluster, whether it has a nervous system or not. ;)

Re:multicellular cluster computing (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about a year and a half ago | (#42890541)

Just because the DNA (the machine) is Turing equivalent doesn't mean that every organism (the program) is Turing complete.

" then every multicellular organism is a compute cluster, whether it has a nervous system or not. ;)"

A bunch of identical cells can just sit next to each other without communicating (see variuos algae), and I wouldn't call that a computational cluster.

Re:multicellular cluster computing (1)

spazdor (902907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42890639)

But they did communicate, by virtue of having come from the same mitosis process. Lots of parallel compute systems don't require inter-node communication after the nodes have received their initial work packet. Remember those "distributed.net" RC5-cracking competition clients? All they needed was to be told what section of the keyspace they were responsible for searching, and then they ran autonomously after that.

Re:multicellular cluster computing (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892569)

Just like popping out a baby...

Re:multicellular cluster computing (1)

abuelos84 (1340505) | about a year and a half ago | (#42891401)

Way to miss a chance to laugh, brother...

Re:multicellular cluster computing (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about a year and a half ago | (#42901187)

Except that your neurons don't use boolean logic.

This is not True.

Re:multicellular cluster computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42890745)

I hear some anonymous Brit already wrote a little over three thousand lines of code for it.

Re:multicellular cluster computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42892193)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these babies.

Wait, I guess that's like basically just a person.

Actually, I have a proposal and specification that this mouse just gave me......

AAGCCCAGACACAA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42889577)

Hello, world. Stop. Boobs!

Frankly ... (1)

Pope Benedict XVI (881674) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889643)

I would be more excited if they could figure out how to turn dead cells into computers.

Re:Frankly ... (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889689)

I'd be more excited if they could dead cells into live ones.

Re:Frankly ... (2)

fisted (2295862) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889741)

I'd be even more excited if there was a laser involved somewhere.

Re:Frankly ... (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892479)

Laser zombie coprocessor-cats.

(Like regular laser cats, except with less SNL and more lifespan and bra[aaaa]ins for Folding@home.)

Re:Frankly ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42891923)

If they dead cells into live ones, I'll totally Conway's Game of Life on them.

Why wetware ? (2)

Turminder Xuss (2726733) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889693)

I suppose the ability to store data and program instructions in DNA would enable a Von Neumann architecture. The possibility of simulataneous "operations" on different parts of the genome might even make common bus based bottlenecks (where data cannot be fetched simultaneously with an instruction) less of a limit. But the speed of the thing would be agonisingly slow compared to silicon. Massively parallel perhaps but slow as a wet week.

Re:Why wetware ? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42890383)

But it could regenerate itself!

Re:Why wetware ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42890785)

stupidly parralel though. Also, I did the math, and adding a chromosome to the human genome with one of these and came to the conclusion that you could create a processor about as powerful as a modern ARM core using this technique. Have another chromosome for data storage, and the total DNA length isn't much longer, but with about as much processing power as a galaxy s2 in EACH CELL. (7500 DMIPS for those inclined)

Imagine that times 10 trillion for the amount of somatic cells in a human body. So imagine a processor farm capable of running at 75 quadrillion DMIPS. And a 800 zetabyte storage system.

That is..... Large.

not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42889713)

Will this cycle of Human then Cylon, then Human and back to Cylon ever end? Besides, I'm not too keen on being a Human with yet another Cylon uprising. Sure they eventually turn into Hot Blondes and Turbo Rocking Asian Chicks that put out and slightly aging, but looking better than ever, Warrior Princesses, but that's after the wars start and most of us meat puppets are rotting in the ground.

Re:not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42889763)

u wot m8?

Diagnosis please... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42889821)

Combine this with the previous article and one could have a built in doctor.

Re:Diagnosis please... (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892211)

I guess you mean IBM Watson medical libraries entirely coded in DNA and working inside a cell. I'd mod you interesting or insightful if I had points. I Just hope, assuming this technology actually becomes practical, that the cells inside my body coded with an advanced A.I. don't try to take over my stupid mind.

Great. (1)

bogidu (300637) | about a year and a half ago | (#42889945)

We all know what happens when bio-gelpacks on our starships catch a cold!

Ha ha (lol!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42889963)

I turned your mom's ass last night

No big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42890409)

I'd like to see the opposite!

Synthetic biologists (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42891787)

I think I'll wait until these results can be verified by real biologists.

Rebugging the Debugger (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892029)

These 'genetic circuits' could, for example, be used by scientists to track key moments in a cell's life or, in biotechnology, to turn on production of a drug at the flick of a chemical switch.

Code-Monkey Translation:
Scientists, lacking a good debugger for living organisms, have made a breakthrough: They're now able to employ the tried and true tradition of adding
printf( "Made it here and didn't crash!" );
and/or
if ( DEBUG && VK_LSHIFT_DN ) { ... }
code into bacteria.

Despite the platform being in open beta for as long as anyone can remember and its undeniable popularity the world over, professional coders experienced with situations that require resorting to this technique in undocumented code, badly supported 3rd party plug-ins, and poorly understood niche embedded systems, are advising the scientists to wait for the more mature 1.0 release of the DNA API specification before implementing their own domain specific language on the platform.

We are Borg... (1)

AlienSexist (686923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42892521)

Getting closer all the time. Cybernetic enhancements, nanobots/nanoprobes, and a few transhumanist cults.
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