Life's Building Blocks Aid In IT - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News

Life's Building Blocks Aid In IT

Researchers are using DNA to develop computers that someday could solve massively complex problems.

Researchers are experimenting with computers that could solve massively complex problems and surpass today's most powerful supercomputers. And those futuristic computers are based on DNA.

To create one, scientists synthesize DNA molecules and present them with a mathematical problem. While today's most complex computers use figures and formulas, a DNA computer's input, output, and software are made up of DNA molecules that store and process encoded information in living organisms.

"To some extent, a DNA computer is a chemical and biological counterpart to today's electronic computers," says Ravinderjit Braich, a postdoctoral student at the University of Southern California's Laboratory for Molecular Science. To understand how a DNA computer works, think of a mathematical problem as a padlock and potential solutions as a ring of keys. While electronic computers try only one at a time, a DNA computer could try millions of keys simultaneously.

The DNA computer was conceived in 1994 by USC professor Leonard Adleman, who founded the school's Laboratory for Molecular Science the following year. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and its Ames Research Center have provided grants for Adleman's research. The research reached a milestone recently when Adleman used a DNA computer to solve a complex problem with 1 million possible answers--only simple problems had been tried before. The molecular size of DNA computers means many can be combined in a tiny amount of space, Braich says. "DNA has such a high information density that you can record the entire Library of Congress and encode it into DNA that weighs less than 1 gram," he says.

Braich has high hopes for biological and chemical computing. In the future, DNA computers using simultaneous chemical reactions as massively parallel processors could someday be used to study genes and power robotic devices, he says. For now, Adleman says, the DNA computer isn't sufficiently developed.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
News
How COVID is Changing Technology Futures
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  7/23/2020
Slideshows
10 Ways AI Is Transforming Enterprise Software
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  7/13/2020
Commentary
IT Career Paths You May Not Have Considered
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/30/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Special Report: Why Performance Testing is Crucial Today
This special report will help enterprises determine what they should expect from performance testing solutions and how to put them to work most efficiently. Get it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll