A test-tube circuit made of DNA-based logic gates can calculate the square root of numbers up to 15, using DNA replication and sequence binding to conduct computations. It’s excruciatingly slow — a calculation can take up to 10 hours — so organic laptops are not exactly in our near future. But the real breakthrough is in how this system can enable control of chemical systems.
“DNA is the future of computing,” Jian-Jun Shu tells PhysOrg. And why not? Silicon is slow by comparison, computes in a binary system, creates waste heat, and is not particularly easy on the environment. DNA-based computing can perform better than silicon in several respects, Shu says, and he and a few of his students at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore have set out to prove it.
By Andrew Rosenblum
Posted 01.18.2011 at 2:06 pm 0 Comments
The most efficient computer in the known universe is a three-pound blob with no user’s manual: the human brain, which in a day’s work requires no more fuel than the caloric energy in a BLT. In contrast, IBM’s Dawn supercomputer, which used 147,456 850-megahertz processors to run a simple simulation on the scale of a cat’s cortex, requires the equivalent of roughly 50,000 BLTs every 24 hours.
If we’re ever going to create the next-gen quantum computers that promise to solve complex and difficult problems at super-fast speeds, first we’ll need to a means to manipulate atoms individually. So researchers from Duke and the University of Wisconsin have figured out how to do exactly that. Collaborators from those universities have demonstrated a laser system that can aim and focus tiny bursts of light onto single atoms without affecting other neighboring particles.
The holidays may be driving video game console sales, but apparently so is the military. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has strung together 1,760 PlayStation 3 gaming systems to create what it’s calling the fastest interactive computer system in the entire DoD, capable of executing 500 trillion floating point operations per second.
Brain-machine interfaces hold potential for a variety of ends, from helping the neurologically or physically disabled communicate and interact with their environments, to creating thought-controlled computers that augment the brain with computing power. A group of researchers at Columbia are turning that model on its ear, using brain power to augment computing tasks. Their device couples the human brain and computers to perform tasks neither could do as efficiently on their own.
Quantum computing represents the next great technological leap for computer processing, but building a computer that runs on individual atoms trapped in a lattice by beams of light isn’t exactly child’s play. But while an actual high-powered quantum computer may still be several years away, researchers at Harvard and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics have captured the first images of atoms arranged in the necessary grid.
The world has waited with bated breath for three decades, and now finally a group of academics, engineers, and math geeks has discovered the number that explains life, the universe, and everything. That number is 20, and it's the maximum number of moves it takes to solve a Rubik's Cube.
First they gave us a high-res tour of Mars -- now Microsoft has made the largest and clearest night-sky map ever. It's a terapixel image: 1,000 000,000,000 pixels.
The software giant’s Terapixel project stitched together 1,791 pairs of red-light and blue-light plates from telescopes in California and Australia. The result is the map above, which covers the night sky of the northern and southern hemispheres.
Miniaturization has been no small force driving computer technology forward over the past five decades, and a group of Australian researchers has proved just how small they think they can go. Using just seven atoms, scientists at the University of New South Wales working with researchers at the U. of Wisconsin have carefully constructed a quantum dot transistor, the smallest deliberately built electronic device in the world.
The electron has been good to us. It has christened an entire field of both theoretical exploration and practical devices -- electronics -- and has allowed us to leverage its most simple property, charge, to create complex devices and processing methods. But a group of researchers in Colorado think we're selling ourselves short. By tapping the more complex properties of entire atoms, the field of atomtronics could completely rewrite the book on information processing.
Silicon chips are on the way out, at least if Duke University engineer Chris Dwyer has his way. The professor of electrical and computer engineering says a single grad student using the unique properties of DNA to coax circuits into assembling themselves could produce more logic circuits in a single day than the entire global silicon chip industry could produce in a month.
You might think Google knows all there is to know, but apparently Google doesn't think so. The company is now seeking to know the unknowable, having just sunk an undisclosed amount of capital into Cambridge, Mass.-based Recorded Future, a startup that analyzes the "past, present and the predicted future," according to Google's investment arm, Google Ventures.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.