Cells as the new computer

I’ve always wondered why our electronics industry is limited to 1′s and 0′s.  Using biology and chemistry to produce data is an interesting idea:

In one experiment, they took a map of Canada, dropped oat flakes (slime-mold food) on the nation’s major cities, and placed the mold on Toronto. It oozed forth to form the most efficient paths to the cities, creating networks of “roads” that almost perfectly mimicked the actual Canadian highway system.

And later on:

The hybrid technology would process information less like a computer and more like a brain, learning and growing through experiences and trial and error, making it possible to solve problems in both neuroscience and computer science. “We envisage that the Physarum-based computing research will lead to a revolution in the bioelectronics and computer industry,” he says.

His colleague Akl says one advantage of biocomputers may be that they can function in places that conventional electronics can’t. “Think about computing in harsh environments like the bottom of the ocean, the human body, or on another planet where our computers may not survive,” he says. Life forms could thrive in settings where silicon chips might melt, freeze, or disintegrate.

Photo courtesy of kaibara87 on Flickr.