Using a biological “computer” system, the basis of which is specially designed synthetic DNA, scientists were able to extract the square root of the number 900. Note that the idea of using genetic material to perform computational operations was first proposed in 1994. Since that time, biologists have found ways to store information in DNA and methods for processing it, which are based on the same principles of logic that are used in processors and microcontrollers.
However, the integration of complex logical chains into a single circuit, which is located in a synthetic DNA molecule and which is capable of performing complex mathematical calculations, is incredibly difficult. And these studies represent a significant step towards the future, where biological DNA computers can squeeze their silicon counterparts.
“The field of DNA computing is still in its infancy, but it’s hiding tremendous opportunities to solve problems that are extremely difficult and even impossible to solve with traditional silicon computers,” said Chunlei Guo, a leading university researcher. Rochester
The biological computer in question is a tiny ball woven from strands of synthetic DNA. Some of the threads contain input data, while others are information output devices that can fluoresce by emitting light, which is a combination of five wavelengths of blue, orange, brown, red and green, which encodes a 5-bit result.
The bits of the source information are encoded by the presence or presence of certain bases on one side of the double strand of DNA, and the sequence of logical operations with this data is the sequence of bases on the other side of the molecule. Thus, DNA strands with a length of 10 base pairs can contain numbers from 0 to 1023. And therefore, the researchers chose the number 900 for their demonstration, which is the last possible ideal square provided in such a DNA calculus.
Unfortunately, what has been done by scientists is not yet an analogue of a full-fledged programmable computer and even a banal calculator. This is a specialized system that, according to certain rules (square root extraction), translates the input DNA sequence into the corresponding light image. Nevertheless, this technology is one of the new ways to build biological computers, different from others, based on the use of enzymes or self-assembled DNA molecules.
In their further research, scientists plan, using exactly the same approach, to implement even more complex mathematical calculations. And if all this succeeds, then this technology can be used as a “mathematical coprocessor”, capable of performing a number of certain complex operations, facilitating the work of the biological “central processor”, which can be built on completely different principles.