Scientists have created a biological computer capable of extracting hidden images on a DNA chip.
There’s nothing new about a computer reading images encrypted on DNA chips, but this is the first computer made only of biomolecules. The scientists behind the research in California and Israel say they don’t expect biological computers to compete with electronic computers.
The biological computer isn’t pretty and doesn’t look like a normal computer since it was created in a test tube by mixing chemicals in a solution that appears clear, said Ehud Keinan, the professor who led the research.
Scientists don’t know what impact their findings will have on technological advancement, but biomolecular computing devices could redefine what a computer is. A computer is defined “as a machine made of four components — hardware, software, input and output,” Keinan said in a statement.
“In contrast to electronic computers, there are computing machines in which all four components are nothing but molecules,” said lead researcher Keinan. “For example, all biological systems and even entire living organisms are such computers. Every one of us is a biomolecular computer, a machine in which all four components are molecules that ‘talk’ to one another logically.”
Keinan explains how the biological molecules were created: “The molecules start interacting upon one another, and we step back and watch what happens,” Keinian said. “And by tinkering with the type of DNA and enzymes in the mix, scientists can fine-tune the process to a desired result.”
The computing device can extract images similar to the way computer software does. The 100% biological computer may be useful for long-term storage.