Move over Intel, the new wave of micro-processors are about to hit the shelves. Colonies of yeast can be genetically engineered to form complex logical pathways which, when applied with particular stimuli, form incredibly powerful computations.
“It’s not an exact replica of a microprocessor. There are no hard wires or transistors. There are, however, complex cellular structures that responds very quickly and very accurately. We can use these to solve amazingly complex problems in the twinkling of an eye,” according to Ron Hamrick of Dubuque, “We calculated pi to one billion digits in less than twenty minutes with only half a teaspoon of sugar and a modest colony.”
While the bio-processors are hardly suitable for watches and computers, they do have a distinct advantage over commonplace silicon-based processors: they can grow.
“As the need for more processing power rises, we can increase the size of the colony. It seems that the processing power increases according to many factors, such as cell count, sugar content, surface area and oxygen / carbon dioxide ratios. The whole concept is scalable.”
After an exhausting set of trials, Ron and his team have settled upon a particular strain to serve as a bench-mark for future trials.
“We may see in the future that genetic engineering and microprocessing join forces to create ultra-complex pathways in living creatures. Who knows what the limits are?”