A breakthrough scientific discovery has been made. And because of it, the Playsttion 5 might actually be made of DNA. You know, like you and me.


Scientists made a fascinating new discovery today. They found that computers can be made to “think” and “remember” using DNA, the building blocks of life. And if that’s the case, gaming consoles of the future could potentially be made of DNA.

Makes me think of that South Park scene where Cartman goes to the future and tries to get a Wii. The otters call it “Primitive technology”. Is that how we will soon think about the Playstaiton 4 Pro?

The news came out of Germany, where scientists have been looking for an alternative to trnasistors in computers.

Transistors are miniature electronic components that can work as amplifiers or switchers. They work like brain cells, allowing computers to “think” (process information) and to remember things (like your Dark Souls 2 save game state).

Scientists keep trying to make transistors smaller so they can fit more of them in a computer. The more transistors they’re able to cram into a computer, the more powerful the computer will be. And at the same time, the smaller transistors are, the smaller devices can be.

You remember how massive phones were ten years ago? That’s partly because transistors were much bigger back then.

So, scientists keep trying to make transistors smaller. Over the past sixty years researchers have continually strived to make transistors smaller, and have gotten them down to just 5 nanometers. That’s five one-billionths of a meter. About the same size as my brain.

Scientists have hit a problem now though. They’ve made transistors so small that there is no way they could possibly ever get any smaller. And that means that if computers continue to get more powerful, they’ll have to get bigger too.

But it’s okay. Researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (that’s the fabulous name of a lab in Germany) have found a solution. They’ve discovered that it’s possible to use DNA strands as an alternative to transistors.

Physicists have conducted an electric current through gold-plated nanowires, which independently assembled themselves from single DNA strands, Science Daily reports. That’s clever, sciency talk for, “we can use DNA to let computers process information and remember stuff”.

Dr Artur Erbe is a physicist at Ion Beam Physics And Materials Research. He tells us that modified DNA can be used to run electrical currents through wires, essentially allowing them to take the place of transistors. The DNA strands allow the wires to remember and to “think”.

The scientists believe that this breakthrough could turn the computer world on its head. It could mean that traditional electronics are replaced with an approach based on nature. The independent parts in computers would then be smaller. And that, in turn, means that if a gaming console were based on DNA it could be much, much smaller than todays systems.

There’s one problem that the scientists are trying to find a solution to, however. “Genetic matter doesn’t conduct a current particularly well,” Erbe tells us. Which is a good thing really, because if genetic matter conducted tons of electricity we’d all be machines.

Because it’s hard conducting electricity through genetic matter, the scientists currently have to use gold, which is super-conductive. Bit of a wallet-grabber though, making computers out of gold.

The scientists believe they may have a solution even to this problem. They’re using electron beam lithography, which is the practice of scanning a focused beam of electrons to draw custom shapes on a surface covered with an electron-sensitive film called a resist (“exposing”). So yeah, there’s that too.

Our friend Erbe and his colleagues have placed gold-plated nanoparticles on the DNA wires using chemical bonds we’re told (ask someone on Facebook what that means and let us know). Using a “top-down” method — electron beam lithography — they subsequently make contact with the individual wires electronically.

“This connection between the substantially larger electrodes and the individual DNA structures have come up against technical difficulties until now. By combining the two methods, we can resolve this issue. We could thus very precisely determine the charge transport through individual wires for the first time,” adds Erbe.

The research team says that DNA is the future of electronics. But it sounds a bit Terminator-ie to me. Would a console based on DNA be able to think and learn for itself? Would it try to hunt down John Conor? And if so, can I please get a few minutes alone with Sarah Conor?

Technology is evolving every day. And the Playstation 5 could be made from DNA.

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.


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