Posts Tagged ‘DNA computers

16
Oct
13

DNA Computers–Think Origami, or Brain Folds

Scientists have struggled for over thirty years to market a DNA computer to the masses. It can play tic-tac-toe and solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (best way for a national sales guy to visit twenty-thirty cities–quite relevant to everyday people). Now the experts are considering using DNA computer apps to fight disease. But, for us middle Americans, we are far from benefiting from the power, affordability and tiny size of DNA computers.

Here’s a clever idea I stumbled across on MIT’s blog. We all know that the reason the brain can do so much is it relies on the folds that cover its surface. Technically, they’re not ‘folds’; they’re Gyri or Gyrus (singular) and the ‘valleys’ between the Gyri are called Sulci or Sulcus. Anyway, Mother Nature added these to give that umph to our brains in power, storage capacity and speed that no computer comes close to matching. Why not add them to DNA computers? Here’s a discussion:

DNA Origami for Faster, Smaller Computer Chips

Using DNA structures, researchers may be able to construct tinier, cheaper chips

Artificial, self-assembling DNA structures may help make smaller and cheaper microchips, according to research presented in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Tinier microchips would allow faster computers and other electronics.

Researchers from IBM and the California Institute of Technology used a technique known as DNA origami, where a long strand of DNA is folded into a shape with many shorter strands dubbed staples, creating a three-dimensional shape. In the paper, the researchers demonstrated using DNA origami-shapes as a scaffold for carbon nanotubes–a trick that could eventually be used to create nanoscale microchips.

The DNA structures are tiny enough to have features measuring six nanometers–the current industry standard for microchips is 45 nanometers. The process could replace the expensive tools manufacturers currently use to make tiny chips, although IBM suggests that it could take up to 10 years to test and refine the process for manufacturing.


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13
Feb
13

DNA Computers and DNA Viruses

science-41994_640Cat’s the one who started me on DNA computers (we share a grad student office). My AI Otto is struggling with my need for speed in his computations and his need for energy to complete the work. When I ask him a question, he sorts through a datasphere the size of the digital Library of Congress (all public sources on the internet. Imagine if you searched ‘Homo erectus’ on the internet and then read and absorbed the one million hits–that’s what Otto does just to get started) to create the simulated reality required for his movies. You can see the importance of speed.

Here’s what I know about DNA computers. They weigh almost nothing, carry their own energy pack, can perform ten trillion operations at once and store an amazing amount of information–all in a drop of water with room to spare. The mechanics are deceptively simple. A high school senior won a scholarship by programming the Declaration of Independence into a DNA molecule. Here’s a link to How Stuff Works if you’d like more information.

The problem, from what Cat’s explained, is the amount of error in DNA computing. In our human genome, we call them mutations and they’re considered part of our uniqueness. The average child has around 6.3 billion base pairs of DNA with around 277 mutational differences from his/her parents. Many are noninvasive because 1) cells have built-in redundancies, 2) parts of our genetic make-up are inactive. Maybe they used to be active, but with H. sapiens sapiens, they aren’t. 3) some have nothing to do with how we get along in the world.

But, for traditional computing needs, we need more accuracy than that. The theorists believe that within highly-structured uses, they can be controlled. Taiwan has already created a chip out of DNA.

Continue reading ‘DNA Computers and DNA Viruses’

26
Apr
10

Who Would Guess ‘Metamaterials’ Would Be My Most-Viewed Post

As a grad student, I research a lot of stuff. Most of it is related to my work on AI’s, but along the yellow brick road that leads to my personal Oz, I peek into anything that catches my interest. Plus, I’m around like-minded individuals who love pulling threads.
As a result, I’ve posted on everything from mind reading to DNA computers to science humor.
But the post that has by far the most hits to date is on metamaterials. Since I first stumbled onto these man-made pieces of matter, I’ve chatted seven times about them and their uses (like an invisibility cloak). Shockingly, lots of people out there in the world share my passion. Take a look at my quarter numbers: Continue reading ‘Who Would Guess ‘Metamaterials’ Would Be My Most-Viewed Post’
29
Mar
10

How’s a DNA Computer Work

You’ve probably read a lot about DNA computers. The next generation of

computing power. Based on the idea that our cells program our entire genome with DNA and its six bases. All our bodies do is rearrange the position of the bases and the length of the message. Kind of like the bases are letters, strung together into words, or sentences (without the space between the words). A high school senior won a scholarship by programming the Declaration of Independence into a DNA molecule. She described it as counterintuitively easy.

Scientists accept that DNA computers are the future. DNA is the most common molecule on earth. A DNA computer that fits in a drop of water, carries its own energy pack , stores millions of times the data of a personal computer, operates hundreds of thousands of times faster than conventional silicon computers–and performs ten trillion operations at once.

A typical problem that a DNA computer excels at is the so-called “burnt pancake problem”: Continue reading ‘How’s a DNA Computer Work’

17
Sep
09

A 4-D Data Picture Has Arrived

UCSB Allosphere

UCSB Allosphere

The only reason Allosphere–UCSB’s virtual reality world–wasn’t invented sooner is processing speed. A holographic world, ala Star Trek’s holodeck, is a simple matter of collecting the data and feeding it out as fast as the eye can focus on a new portion of the surroundings. To date, no computer approaches the brain’s processing speed of 20 million billion calculations per second. If AlloSphere wants to live up to its hype, it’ll have to work at least that hard.

In the 2006 TOP 500 list, which ranks supercomputers by speed, the top three were:

1. IBM’s BlueGene/L – 360 teraflops
2. IBM’s BGW – 115 teraflops
3. IBM’s ASC Purple – 93 teraflops

This is far too slow for a virtual reality world. It has been estimated by many Who Should Know that we will have a computer as fast as the human brain within a few decades.  That means it will be able to make a really simple decision–like naming a picture or reading a word–within 300-700 milliseconds.

How is it possible to create a computer that processes that quickly? Simple–theoretically. Instead of using silicon, use the same materials used in the human computer: DNA. DNA computers operate parallel to each other, like StarTrek’s Borg, all working to solve a problem. A silicon computer works at blazing speed on one problem (think of 7 of 9 when she was separated from the hive).

 

Speed is one part of our brain’s amazing structure. The other is storage capacity. According to Dr. Chris Westbury at the University of Alberta:

“Let’s assume that a change in any connection strength between two connected neurons is equal to one bit of information and further assume (a huge over-simplification) that neural connections have just two possible strengths (like a bit in a computer, which is either 1 or 0). Then each neuron has ‘write’ access to 1000 bits of information, or about 1 kilobyte. So we have 100 billion (number of neurons) X 1 K of storage capacity, or 100 billion K. That’s about 100 million megabytes. Since in fact neural connections are not two-state but multi-state and since neuron bodies can also change their properties and thereby store information, this is a very low estimate, so you can see why some people have estimated it to be functionally infinite.”

This is about 167 hard drives (at 600 gig per). Then again, a DNA molecule inside your cell contains about 750 megabytes of information.

Most scientists consider the brain’s storage capacity to be infinite. Why are they probably right? Because your brain, with its DNA-based computing power,  is made up of about one trillion cells with 100 trillion connections between those cells. which could be 10 quadrillion instructions per second.

What that means is that the data and speed necessary to create a virtual world boggles the mind. Still, AlloSphere is a good start and shows us all we’re that much closer.

A 360-Degree Virtual Reality Chamber Brings Researchers Face to Face with Their Data

Scientists often become immersed in their data, and sometimes even lost. The AlloSphere, a unique virtual reality environment at the University of California, Santa Barbara, makes this easier by turning large data sets into immersive experiences of sight and sound. Inside its three-story metal sphere researchers can interpret and interact with their data in new and intriguing ways, including watching electrons spin from inside an atom or “flying” through an MRI scan of a patient’s brain as blood density levels play as music. (more)

More on DNA computers:

DNA Computers–Think Origami, or Brain Folds

Why isn’t DNA Computing Further Along?

DNA Computers Moving from SciFi to Reality

Ten Weirdest Computers


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23
Aug
09

DNA Computers–Think Origami, or Brain Folds

Scientists have struggled for over thirty years to market a DNA computer to the masses. It can play tic-tac-toe and solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (best way for a national sales guy to visit twenty-thirty cities–quite relevant to everyday people). Now the experts are considering using DNA computer apps to fight disease. But, for us middle Americans, we are far from benefiting from the power, affordability and tiny size of DNA computers.

Here’s a clever idea I stumbled across on MIT’s blog. We all know that the reason the brain can do so much is it relies on the folds that cover its surface. Technically, they’re not ‘folds’; they’re Gyri or Gyrus (singular) and the ‘valleys’ between the Gyri are called Sulci or Sulcus. Anyway, Mother Nature added these to give that umph to our brains in power, storage capacity and speed that no computer comes close to matching. Why not add them to DNA computers? Here’s a discussion:

DNA Origami for Faster, Smaller Computer Chips

Using DNA structures, researchers may be able to construct tinier, cheaper chips

Artificial, self-assembling DNA structures may help make smaller and cheaper microchips, according to research presented in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Tinier microchips would allow faster computers and other electronics.

Researchers from IBM and the California Institute of Technology used a technique known as DNA origami, where a long strand of DNA is folded into a shape with many shorter strands dubbed staples, creating a three-dimensional shape. In the paper, the researchers demonstrated using DNA origami-shapes as a scaffold for carbon nanotubes–a trick that could eventually be used to create nanoscale microchips.

The DNA structures are tiny enough to have features measuring six nanometers–the current industry standard for microchips is 45 nanometers. The process could replace the expensive tools manufacturers currently use to make tiny chips, although IBM suggests that it could take up to 10 years to test and refine the process for manufacturing.


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29
Jul
09

DNA Computers Moving from SciFi to Reality

DNA computers are coming, mark my word.  Two reasons:

  • First: We’ve had viable alternatives in the past, but traditional computing power will soon be too slow and limited for our expectations. We’ll have to come up with the Next Great Computer.
  • Second: DNA Computers need that Killer App. Once we are talking about something other than ‘the DNA computer that plays tic-tac-toe or that traveling salesman problem, see how fast they come to a store near you. Continue reading ‘DNA Computers Moving from SciFi to Reality’



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RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People October 4, 2017
    author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas name: Jacqui average rating: 4.19 book published: 2006 rating: 5 read at: 2017/10/04 date added: 2017/10/04 shelves: history, early-man review: […]
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  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.31 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
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  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
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  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.10 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
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  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.17 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
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  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
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  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.12 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
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  • The Origin Of Humankind July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.96 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
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  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
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  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
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