Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id BAA16726 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Wed, 28 Nov 2001 01:36:01 GMT Subject: Fwd: Scientists Build Tiny Computer Using DNA Molecules Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 20:31:01 -0500 x-sender: firstname.lastname@example.org x-mailer: Claris Emailer 2.0v3, Claritas Est Veritas From: "Wade T.Smith" <email@example.com> To: "Memetics Discussion List" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable Message-ID: <20011128013059.AAA11858@email@example.com> Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
November 27, 2001
Scientists Build Tiny Computer Using DNA Molecules
LONDON, Nov. 26 (Reuters) ‹ Israeli scientists say they have built a DNA
computer so tiny that a trillion of them can fit in a test tube and
perform a billion operations per second with 99.8 percent accuracy.
While such a computer has been theoretically possible for some time, the
scientists, writing in last week's issue of the journal Nature, said this
was the first programmable autonomous computing machine in which the
input, output, software and hardware were all made of DNA molecules.
Because the miniaturizing of conventional computers is reaching its
limits, the scientists say the DNA computers have the potential to
perform some kinds of operations much faster.
For example, they said, their model could form the basis of computers
that could be used to screen DNA libraries in parallel without sequencing
each molecule, which could speed up acquisition of knowledge about DNA.
"We have built a nanoscale computer made of biomolecules that is so small
you cannot run them one at a time," said Prof. Ehud Shapiro of the
Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, the leader of the
research team. "When a trillion computers run together they are capable
of performing a billion operations."
DNA's double-helix molecule stores data on four chemical bases, known by
the letters A, T, C and G, giving it a vast memory capacity. It can hold
more information in a fifth of a teaspoon than a trillion CD's.
"The living cell contains incredible molecular machines that manipulate
information-encoding molecules like DNA and RNA in ways that are
fundamentally very similar to computation," Professor Shapiro said.
But he added, "Since we don't know how to effectively modify these
machines or create new ones just yet, the trick is to find naturally
existing machines that, when combined, can be steered to actually
In their article in Nature, the Israeli scientists describe their DNA
computer as a molecular model of one of the simplest computing machines,
the automaton that can answer certain yes or no questions.
The data are represented by pairs of molecules on a strand of DNA, and
two naturally occurring enzymes act as the hardware to read, copy and
manipulate the code. When it is all mixed together in the test tube, the
software and hardware operate on the input molecule to create the output.
The DNA computer also has a very low energy consumption, so if it is put
inside the cell it will not require much energy to work.
Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company
===============================This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Nov 28 2001 - 01:42:05 GMT