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back to article Biological chips go analog to boost efficiency

MIT boffins have figured out how to create synthetic analog organic circuits that can perform useful tasks without needing the sophistication that digital methods demand, which could lead to more efficient gloopy circuits and even more precise drug manufacture. The advance, which could create technology for carefully managing …

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Coat

It's sad, sometimes...

I swear, my first thought was "bio-neural gel packs".

...I'm so ashamed...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's sad, sometimes...

Same here. Just have to hope the bio neural gelpacks are sealed really well.

"Take this cheese to sickbay".. "ST:Voy, Learning Curve"

AC/DC 6EQUJ5

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We're building a volume knob on your radio...

"We're building a volume knob on your radio that can click through very many levels of expression quite easily and let you tune that in a particular way," Lu says.

...and then you get hacked and someone turns the volume to 11!!!!

On a serious note, kudos for thinking "backwards" and going old-school analogue in a world which is increasingly seeing only digital as the viable choice.

Many people seem to have forgotten analogue electronics. Even volume controls these days "step" between levels, such that I often find devices incapable of producing low sound levels at the "right" level, being either too loud or too quiet. I want my volume setting somewhere between 1 and 2, not just one or the other.

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Anonymous Coward

Real Soon Now

With quantum electronics you'll be able to have the volume at both 1 & 2 at the same time ...

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Re: Real Soon Now

"With quantum electronics you'll be able to have the volume at both 1 & 2 at the same time ..."

but only for as long as I don't listen to find out how loud/quiet it is.

p.s. where is the remote? It might be under the cat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We're building a volume knob on your radio...

Aren't analogue level changes of any sort effectively a series of very, very finely grained digital steps?

What we choose to call "digital" at a macro level is actually a range of analogue values with a tolerance, a guard band, and a hysteresis curve response.

A stream of water if slowed enough becomes drops. Each drop is a slightly different weight within a range. The smallest drop is presumably a molecule - if you can keep them apart. Do all water molecules have exactly the same mass if you measure at the quantum level?

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Re: We're building a volume knob on your radio...

It is not useful to say that there is no such thing as analogue simply because things are, or may be, discrete at the Planck level.

In your example, there is such a scale difference between water as a stream of drops and a stream of molecules (which may have different masseses, due to having different isotopes of H or O), that the fact that the reality may be digital at the very smallest level is essentially irrelevant.

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Re: We're building a volume knob on your radio...

"Aren't analogue level changes of any sort effectively a series of very, very finely grained digital steps?"

No, for audio volume levels and some other sensory level inputs, the level changes are logarithmic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We're building a volume knob on your radio...

"No, for audio volume levels and some other sensory level inputs, the level changes are logarithmic.

Hmm - my "digital steps" didn't specify whether the overall analogue scale was linear, logarithmic, sinusoidal, or any other pattern built by smoothly integrating a series of distinct changes.

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Yag
Terminator

Mmh...

We need a "Rise of the petri dish" icon now!

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Anonymous Coward

Who’d of thunk it

Biological things are inherently analogue, so a biological system working better as analogue rather than digital. It’s a no brainer for anyone who knows anything about biological systems. Using the water drop from above as an example, for a bio system dealing with water molecules, the water molecule is the lowest level, off the top of my head I can think of at least 12 possible different masses for a water molecule, based on various isotopes of H and O.

Scientific journalism seems to focus on physics as the only science with may be a bit of chemistry, biological sciences don’t really get a look in. Presumably because Joe public doesn’t know anything about bio science and don’t think it does anything, as they take some ibuprofen for a headache. We don’t need "Rise of the petri dish" icon as we live with biological things that can kill us and always have, the small ones come underneath umbrella of pathogens, the big ones predators, and a special group just for humans.

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Re: Who’d of thunk it

One need only consider the operation of a brain to see something beyond digital.

A brain, regardless of the animal possessing it, have neuromodulators, neurotransmitters and tend to respond well to input that is logarithmic, rather than linear.

As for water molecules masses, one also has to consider the energy state of the molecule, for at higher energies, they have a different mass. Though small, it's present. We'll not bother with silliness about relativistic motion...

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And so the analogue men rise again.

Perhaps. George Philbrick would be pleased.

In the 80s and 90s Carver Mead's team at Caltech adapted standard CMOS fabrication to mimic the huge dynamic range of natural audio and visual signals as artificial biological systems.

Now the work comes full circle with DNA being adapted to make biological artificial systems, also with large dynamic ranges.

I'll note that memory functions have always been a bit problematic for analogue systems but it's early days.

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