London – Scientists in the UK have developed a new ‘magic’ DNA computer that is capable of processing as well as storing data and has the capability of outperforming all other known computer systems available today.
Scientists at the University of Manchester, UK, reveal that it is possible to engineer a universal Turing machine (UTM) – a computer that can be programmed to compute anything any other device can process. Electronic computers are a form of UTM, but no quantum UTM has yet been built.
The theoretical properties of such a computing machine, including its exponential boost in speed over electronic and quantum computers, have been well understood for many years, but the breakthrough demonstrates that it is actually possible to physically create a UTM using DNA molecules.
“Imagine a computer is searching a maze and comes to a choice point, one path leading left, the other right. Electronic computers need to choose which path to follow first,” said Ross D King, from The University of Manchester. “But our new computer doesn’t need to choose, for it can replicate itself and follow both paths at the same time, thus finding the answer faster.”
Researchers say that they have managed to achieve these magical properties because the computer’s processors are made of DNA rather than silicon chips and the computer is able to grow as it computes thereby making it faster than any other form of computer. The immense capabilities of the DNA computer enables the solution of many computational problems previously considered impossible.
“Quantum computers are an exciting other form of computer, and they can also follow both paths in a maze, but only if the maze has certain symmetries, which greatly limits their use,” King said.
“As DNA molecules are very small a desktop computer could potentially utilise more processors than all the electronic computers in the world combined – and therefore outperform the world’s current fastest supercomputer, while consuming a tiny fraction of its energy,” he said.