August 18, 2003

DNA Power Computing

What if we used living cells as computers?

SAN FRANCISCO -- It almost sounds too fantastic to be true, but a growing amount of research supports the idea that DNA, the basic building block of life, could also be the basis of a staggeringly powerful new generation of computers.

If it happens, the revolution someday might be traced to the night a decade ago when University of Southern California computer scientist Leonard Adleman lay in bed reading James Watson's textbook Molecular Biology of the Gene.

"This is amazing stuff," he said to his wife, and then a foggy notion robbed him of his sleep: Human cells and computers process and store information in much the same way.

Computers store data in strings made up of the numbers 0 and 1. Living things store information with molecules represented the letters A, T, C and G.

There were many more intriguing similarities, Adleman realized as he hopped out of bed. He began sketching the basics of DNA computing.

This sounds like the first steps towards Greg Bear's "intelligent cells" scenario in Blood Music. If Aldeman were a SF fan, he might have had this inspiration a few years ealier than he did. I wonder if he realizes that he's taking baby steps towards the Singularity?

Via GeekPress.

Posted by Phil at August 18, 2003 09:40 AM | TrackBack
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