Bacterial 'Computer' Solves Math Problem

Modified E. coli bacteria were successfully engineered to solve a difficult mathematical puzzle, according to research published today in the Journal of Biological Engineering.


(Scanning electron micrograph of E. coli bacteria)

The DNA of the bacteria was modified to create a special purpose 'computing device' to solve the Hamiltonian Path Problem, a surprisingly intractable brainteaser. A simple example would be plotting the shortest possible route that would take you to the ten largest cities in the US from New York City to San Jose, California.

This simple problem is surprisingly difficult to solve. There are over 3.5 million possible routes to choose from, and a regular computer must try them out one at a time to find the shortest. Alternatively, a computer made from millions of bacteria can look at every route simultaneously...

The researchers coded a simplified version of the problem, using just three cities, by modifying the DNA of Escherichia coli bacteria. The cities were represented by a combination of genes causing the bacteria to glow red or green, and the possible routes between the cities were explored by the random shuffling of DNA. Bacteria producing the correct answer glowed both colours, turning them yellow.

The experiment worked, and the scientists checked the yellow bacteria's answer by examining their DNA sequence.

Fans of sf writer Greg Bear recall his intellectual cells, specially engineered to solve problems.

His first E. coli mutations had had the learning capacity of planarian worms; he had run them through simple T-mazes, giving sugar rewards. They had soon outperformed planaria...

Via Bacteria make computers look like pocket calculators.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/26/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

Razer Project Valerie Laptop Unfurls
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently...' - William Gibson, 1986.

Google Home Continues Implementation Of Pohl's Joymaker
'It is a transponder connecting you with the central computing facilities of the city in which you reside on a shared-time, self-programming basis.' - Frederik Pohl, 1966.

New Startup 'Improbable' To Model Our World
'A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.

Tricking Cells Into Making Silicon Chips
'Fabricated by genetically engineered metal affinity bacteria...' - Marvel, 1984.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

Robotic Physician Assistant Has Steady 'Hands'
'You turned the screws below and the prongs moved... with caliper slowness, minuteness and precision.'

Roboy 3DPrinted Humanoid Robot
'A robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family...'

Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe
'Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect...'

3D Printed Fashion - Plastirobes And Transdresses
'... dial a new fashion every day!'

Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...'

Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!'

Otto Autonomous Robot Trucks Run Into... Legal Snag
'They were automatic trucks such as are used for making deliveries...'

Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
'The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together...'

ThreeForm 3D Scans And Digitally Simulates Customer Fashion
'...A miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red.'

CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...'

Piaggio Gita Personal Robot Porter
'Carry his bag... and follow him faithfully...'

Ardu McDuino, Bagpipe Robot
'Rollo sat at the keyboard, prim, inhuman, rigid, twin lenses focused...'

Not Quite Self-Replicating Robots, Franka Emika
'... it shares with mankind the ability to propagate.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.