DNA Computer Plays Tic-Tac-Toe

from the long-time-off dept

Roland Piquepaille writes “Scientists have built a DNA computer to play tic-tac-toe. MAYA, the DNA computer, is the brainchild of Milan Stojanovic, from Columbia University, and Darko Stefanovic of the University of New Mexico. This was announced both by the Baltimore Sun in “A twist on artificial intelligence: DNA” and by Knight Ridder Newspapers in “Scientists build DNA-powered tic-tac-toe game.” Initial funding for the DNA computer came from NASA, “which is interested in molecular diagnosis and treatment for astronauts on extended space flights or expeditions to Mars.” My blog contains selected quotes of the two articles and additional references. One interesting thing about the rules of the game: the DNA computer always plays first, so its opponents cannot win. Besides games, here is a quote from the Sun’s story which will give you an idea of the amount of data that a DNA computer can process: “DNA is tiny — a trillion molecules squeeze into a single drop of water. It performs chemical reactions at blinding speed. And it holds enormous amounts of information. In fact, 1 gram of the stuff can store as much as 1 trillion compact discs, scientists estimate.”” The Associated Press is also running a more general article on DNA computing. Of course, DNA computing is nothing new – but it’s a long way off from being useful for anything practical. At this point, it’s biggest accomplishment seems to be that it has convinced reporters to write glowing stories about a technology that is nowhere near common use.

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Comments on “DNA Computer Plays Tic-Tac-Toe”

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Ed Halley says:

No Subject Given

A few strands of DNA can describe what you look like, down to the smallest detail. Yet, for SOME reason, every single cell in your body has many many strands of DNA in it, all pretty much identical in content information.


As it turns out, DNA is great at recording information but not all that reliable at keeping the information over long periods of time. Cosmic rays and other environmental hazards tweak a few of our individual DNA strands every day. Massive amounts of information redundancy is required to ensure that you survive the day without rejecting your own organs, and that your kids actually resemble you, even though you’re multiple decades old before you spawn.

Anonymous Coward says:

Step backwards

8 years ago, scientists already solved a P=NP problem (the travelling salesman problem) with a DNA computer. A desktop computer took about an hour to solve the same problem, whereas the test tube DNA solved it immediately.

I’ll add another comment about all our cells having the same DNA — as a matter of fact, in addition to our nuclear DNA, we also have independent DNA for mitochondria, centrioles, and other organelles. Not all cells in our body have the same DNA either — some “stem” cells are transmitted into the fetus from the mother’s blood, so that some of our mothers’ cells are always in our body. Immune reactions against mothers’ cells have been implicated in some diseases.

Also, if cell mutations occur in the early embryo (when it is made up only of 2-8 cells), all the descendants of the mutated cell will have the changed characteristic. For example, if one of the cells mutates into the opposite gender, we can have “chimerism” or “mosaics” by which a boy can have, say, a left arm that is female. Chimeric lab mice act confused and homosexual.

mhh5 says:

Re: Step backwards

fyi, the hype over the DNA traveling salesman solution usually didn’t emphasize the part where you need more matter than is contained in the universe to solve really difficult NP problems. Basically, in DNA computing, you trade computational time for computational mass….

The only way DNA computing will be the future of computation is if we can genetically engineer people to be really really smart. 🙂

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