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Re: your mail



On Mon, 24 Apr 1995 wmathews@interserv.com wrote:

> just wanted to mention an article I recently read about 
> DNA
> computers. Apparently it is possible to do computing 
> problems with
> vials of sculpted DNA. Through the process of mutations 
> the DNA
> strands can extract an answer to a question which, I 
> assume, is stated
> in the DNA code and environment conditions. [.........]

I recall reading a story in The New York Times *Science Times* recently 
about this so-called DNA computer.  References may be found in electronic 
or paper versions, Tuesdays in Feb or Mar '95. 

As I recall, it would be very easy to confuse the terms "computer," 
"memory," and "DNA" here.  Someone has demonstrated that a vat of DNA
*can* be used to *solve* certain kinds of problems.  The most appropriate
kind of problem is one that involves going through kujillions of 
permutations and seeing which ones are viable after-the-fact.  This is 
accomplished via symbolic logic based on the four DNA basic components.  
The DNA is synthesized to specifications, the symbols are assigned, 
reactions take place, and the resulting material is analyzed.  It's a 
one-shot deal, though it is very fast.  And, it's important to have the 
right question.  

This does not involve extracting answers from genetic memory.  It 
involves problem solving using genetic material as symbols in a chemical 
number cruncher (or computing device).  While I think this is yet another 
important area to be researched, I don't think it's about genetic 
memory.  

Cheers, 

Robert T. Hill          /^\__/^\_________/^\--------/^\_________/^\__/^\
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