User friendly bio computers on the way


Scientists working for the Weizmann Institute’s Biological Chemistry, and Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Departments have found a way to make these DNA based computers a bit more user friendly.

The breakthrough opens the way for computers in a bell jar to perform complex computations and answering complicated queries, in a similar method to ordinary computers.

According to Science Daily, biomolecular computers, made of DNA and other biological molecules, only exist today in a few specialised labs.  Most people would never even get the chance to use them to play counterstrike.

Tom Ran and Shai Kaplan created the first autonomous programmable DNA computing device in 2001. It was so small that a trillion fit in a drop of water, that device was able to perform such simple calculations as checking a list of 0s and 1s to determine if there was an even number of 1s.

In 2004, another model detected cancer in a test tube and released a molecule to destroy it and meant that such biology-based devices could one day be injected into the body.

Now, Shapiro and his team, in a paper published online August 3 in Nature Nanotechnology, have devised an advanced program for biomolecular computers that enables them to ‘think’ logically.

Using Socrates' logic, the team went on to set up  complicated queries involving multiple rules and facts, and the DNA computing devices were able to deduce the correct answers every time.

They also created a compiler  between a high-level computer programming language and DNA computing code.

Strands of  DNA representing the rules, facts and queries were assembled by a robotic system and searched for a fit in a hierarchical process. The answer was encoded in a flash of green light.

An enzyme, attracted to the site of the correct answer, allowed the light to shine. The tiny water drops containing the biomolecular databases were able to answer intricate queries, and they lit up in a combination of colors representing the complex answers.