Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Smart Yogurt?

A BT futurologist muses about, well, the future.
"... DNA is already being used in a test tube to assemble macro electronic circuits - basically shove in a suspension of carbon nano tubes and gold particles, stir in some DNA. You can persuade the DNA to assemble the gold particles onto the end of the carbon nano tubes and make simple circuits. That was demonstrated about two years ago, and the company has gone secret since, as they are now working on developing more sophisticated circuits. The idea is that you do bottom up assembly which is the next generation of chip assembly by using DNA and protein clusters to basically grab the stuff and stick it together using clever chemistry. The key point is that you can do this with DNA.

We were thinking, one of the good ways of doing this is spending billions of pounds for a real live bacterium - e-coli, or something you find in yoghurt - and you don't modify it so much that it can't survive because you want it to replicate, but you modify it so that it creates electronic circuits within its' own cells. That's really good fun then, because you've got electronic bacteria - real live bacterium which can replicate with electronics in it. The electronics have nothing to do with the bacteria, they are just there, but they turn it into "smart bacteria", because you can then connect those electronics together using infrared or bioluminescence and make completely scalable electronic circuits. So you start off with one bacterium, which is essentially a module, and you link billions of these together and you've got something that makes your PC look pretty primitive. You've got a "smart yoghurt" by about 2025, and we did the calculations, and we reckon that it's possible to make a yoghurt with roughly the same processing power as the entire European population..."
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