A future computer might be a lot slimier than the solid silicon devices we have today.
In a study published in the journal Materials Today, European researchers reveal details of logic units built using living slime molds, which might act as the building blocks for computing devices and sensors. Andrew Adamatzky (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK) and Theresa Schubert (Bauhaus-University Weimar, Germany) have constructed logical circuits that exploit networks of interconnected slime mold tubes to process information.
One is more likely to find the slime mold Physarum polycephalum living somewhere dark and damp rather than in a computer science lab. In its “plasmodium” or vegetative state, the organism spans its environment with a network of tubes that absorb nutrients. The tubes also allow the organism to respond to light and changing environmental conditions that trigger the release of reproductive spores. In earlier work, the team demonstrated that such a tube network could absorb and transport different colored dyes. They then fed it edible nutrients – oat flakes – to attract tube growth and common salt to repel them, so that they could grow a network with a particular structure.
They then demonstrated how this system could mix two dyes to make a third color as an “output”. Using the dyes with magnetic nanoparticles and tiny fluorescent beads, allowed them to use the slime mold network as a biological “lab-on-a-chip” device. This represents a new way to build microfluidic devices for processing environmental or medical samples on the very small scale for testing and diagnostics, the work suggests. The extension to a much larger network of slime mold tubes could process nanoparticles and carry out sophisticated Boolean logic operations of the kind used by computer circuitry.
The team has so far demonstrated that a slime mold network can carry out XOR or NOR Boolean operations. Chaining together arrays of such logic gates might allow a slime mold computer to carry out binary operations for computation. “The slime mold based gates are non-electronic, simple and inexpensive, and several gates can be realized simultaneously at the sites where protoplasmic tubes merge,” conclude Adamatzky and Schubert.
Are we entering the age of the biological computer?
Stewart Bland, Editor of Materials Today, believes that “although more traditional electronic materials are here to stay, research such as this is helping to push and blur the boundaries of materials science, computer science and biology, and represents an exciting prospect for the future.”
The Latest on: Biological computer
via Google News
The Latest on: Biological computer
- Deep learning, 3D technology to improve structure modeling for protein interactions, create better drugson January 9, 2020 at 11:33 am
“To understand molecular mechanisms of functions of protein complexes, biologists have been using experimental methods such as X-rays and microscopes, but they are time- and resource-intensive efforts ...
- Image quality guided smart rotation improves coverage in microscopyon January 9, 2020 at 2:34 am
Fluorescence microscopy is an essential tool for biological discoveries. There is a constant demand for better spatial ... Before the start of each time point, the data acquisition computer ...
- This Computer Is Made Entirely Out of Chemicalson January 8, 2020 at 12:30 am
“Their solutions are very prone to noise in the system,” said Barbara Bryant, a senior director at Constellation Pharmaceuticals, who has shown how biological complexes called chromatin can implement ...
- Rensselaer Announces New Degree Program in Biological Neuroscienceon January 7, 2020 at 5:41 am
Both biological neuroscience and the dual degree are a natural ... skills with the combination – exposing students to lab work, quantitative methods, and computer programming – and opens more career ...
- The next software revolution: programming biological cells | Sara-Jane Dunnon January 2, 2020 at 2:10 am
The cells in your body are like computer software: they're "programmed" to carry out ... she explains how her team is studying embryonic stem cells to gain a new understanding of the biological ...
- biological computerson December 24, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Although it isn’t very real-world practical, researchers at Cal Tech have produced a DNA-based programmable computer. Spectrum reports that the system executes programs using a set of instructions ...
- We are using computer models to fight drug resistanceon December 12, 2019 at 2:57 am
And I believe that we can do so. My research is based on using computers to understand biological problems at the protein level. This is part of bioinformatics, a young but broad discipline.
- Your zip software can calculate the complex physical quantity called entropyon December 6, 2019 at 1:16 pm
"Having the ability to calculate entropy meets an urgent need to harness the incredible power of computer simulations to address urgent ... A standard compression algorithm could revolutionize ...
- The City as Biological Computeron November 25, 2019 at 4:00 pm
The City as Biological Computer brings these curtains to The Gallery at Foyles, as well as five other visionary projects and proposals by ecoLogicStudio and their academic partners in which ...
- Baylor University Announces Funding of Biological/Biomedical Engineering Chairon November 11, 2019 at 2:24 pm
The Mearse Endowed Chair in Biological and Biomedical Engineering will promote ... From their volunteering and advocacy for the good work of our Engineering and Computer Science faculty to their ...
via Bing News