Researchers Make "Baby Borg" Logic Gates for Bacteria Hive Computer
December 10, 2010 9:30 AM
comment(s) - last by
Computers of the future may consist of "assimilated" E. Coli bacteria.
(Source: The Matrix Project)
Using genetic reprogramming, UCSF researchers have forced bacteria to become logic gates for a hive mind
Star Trek:The Next Generation
may have been prescient when they dreamed up the Borg -- living organisms that had been transformed into a hive computer mind. Indeed, many biology and genetics researchers today are hoping to
transform bacteria into drones
, forming a biological supercomputer of the future.
study in the journal
Christopher A. Voigt
, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of California San Francisco, demonstrated how intercellular communications between genetically modified
bacteria could act as a crude computer.
Professor Voigt's team first modified the bacteria to secrete a pair of compounds -- one, which represented "on", and one that represented "off". By modifying the signal processing genetics of the bacteria, his team transformed the lifeforms into logic gates.
For example, if the bacteria received the "on" signal from both of its neighbors, if it had the gene profile to be an "AND" gate it would secrete an "on". However, if the bacteria was programmed as an "XOR" (exclusive or) gate it would secrete an "off".
The result is that bacteria can be enslaved to become part of a hive mind computer, performing the will of a central controller. Professor Voigt describes, "We think of electronic currents as doing computation, but any substrate can act like a computer, including gears, pipes of water, and cells. Here, we've taken a colony of bacteria that are receiving two chemical signals from their neighbors, and have created the same logic gates that form the basis of silicon computing."
While the bacteria are relatively large versus the latest 32 nm process gates (3000x3000 nm v 160x35 nm), they enjoy the advantage of being self-healing, reprogrammable, and potentially easier to stack in
Much like a miniature Borg hive, the little microbes may one day stack into a matrix that provides their fundamental nutrient needs and houses them. Collectively, they will then become a single biochemical computer.
Professor Voigt comments, "The purpose of programming cells is not to have them overtake electronic computers."
Bay Area biotech star Life Technologies, in Carlsbad, Cal., is already looking to commercialize the technology from the paper. They're working to make software tools that will allow genetic engineers to easily "program" bacteria into a specific gate, much like circuit designers might spec out their circuit in a CAD program.
Professor Voigt's team is currently working towards building a bacteria computer capable of accepting commands in a formal language system, similar to how modern computers receive commands in assembly (translated to machine) language.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
12/13/2010 2:19:28 PM
Meth to overclock for games, Viagra to overclock for surfing other things ;)
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
Researchers Make Breakthrough in Synthetic Circuits
October 5, 2009, 10:02 AM
Samsung Announces 3D Chip Packaging Technology
April 13, 2006, 9:34 AM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Most Popular Articles
Microsoft Band 2 Stays Focused on Fitness, Debuts Oct. 30, Priced at $249
October 6, 2015, 9:16 PM
Microsoft's HD-500 ("Display Dock"), the Magic Sauce Behind Continuum
October 6, 2015, 5:30 PM
Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL Finally Launch, w/ Windows 10, Liquid Cooling
October 6, 2015, 3:35 PM
Legere Blasts Microsoft for "Bull***t" Snub of T-Mobile and Verizon
October 9, 2015, 3:02 PM
Apple's First Fixes to iOS 9 Land w/ iOS 9.0.1 Release
September 23, 2015, 6:11 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information