Biological supercomputer will be able to eat the same food as humans

    Conventional supercomputers have tremendous performance, but there are also a lot of disadvantages: they are expensive, consume a lot of electricity, heat up too much and take up too much space. But what if we apply a radically different approach to the development of microcircuits, generally abandoning standard silicon materials in favor of biological components from nature?

    A living book-sized supercomputer will be able to receive energy from adenosine triphosphates (ATP), like all normal organisms. Instead of electrons, proteins will transmit information. An international group of bioengineers is working on such a crazy idea . They recently published the first results of their experiments in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS).

    Scientists have designed a microchip with an area of ​​1.5 cm 2 , the architecture of which resembles the layout of city streets. On these streets are moving "biological agents" (proteins). A route along a network of streets with intersections is determined by a number of conditions. Turning to the right means subtracting the number from the subset, turning to the left means adding the number to the subset. The value of the number depends on the number of turns in the path of the agent. This prototype processor solves only one mathematical problem.

    The principle of calculation is shown in the video.

    “We were able to create a very complex network in a very small area,” says bio engineer Dan Nicolau Sr. of McGill University of Canada. His group collaborates with colleagues from Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. “It all started with an idea on a napkin sheet, after too many rum, it seems to me, with drawings like worms crawling through mazes.”

    In a real biological microprocessor, protein filaments - agents - receive energy from ATP, just like cells in living organisms.

    Although the development is at an early stage, in theory, a biological supercomputer has many advantages over silicon: compact size, energy efficiency, environmental safety, and a high degree of parallelization of processes.

    In the second video - shooting the real movement of agents.

    “Now that a model has been created that successfully solves one problem, there will be many followers who will go even further using other biological agents, for example,” says Nicolaou. - It is difficult to say when we see a full-fledged biological supercomputer. One of the options for solving more serious and complex tasks may be combining with a conventional computer into a hybrid device. We are now considering various options for continuing research. ”

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