Saturday, June 04, 2011

Chemical computation

Lulu Qian and Erik Winfree's recent paper on simulating Boolean circuits using DNA has attracted quite a lot of attention. I was asked by both Nature and New Scientist to offer comments on their work, which I happily did (here and here).

While the New Scientist quote is clearly taken directly from an early-morning Skype conversation, the Nature story (understandably) used only a small snippet of my "take". In the context of the article, it could appear that I was being overly-negative about what is actually a remarkable piece of work. For the record, here's the entire text that I sent the author of the piece, with the bit that was actually used highlighted in bold:

"This is an important development in the search for truly 'hands free' molecular computing. The paper describes a real fusion of computing and the life sciences, which moves us one step closer towards programmable information chemistry. As the authors themselves acknowledge, scaling up their approach might be difficult, but they've described one possible path for its future development, through physical localization of elements. As John Reif points out in the commentary, the biggest challenge will be to get this type of construction to work inside living cells, where it might find a number of applications in sensing and control."

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