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Bioengineering Roundup

February 22, 2008

Researchers use a diatom’s genes to design a better microchip.


Computer chips from slime. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In a net, diatom algae looks like green scum. But under a microscope, each cell is an intricate masterpiece, created out of glass, or silica. And now University of Wisconsin engineers have isolated the genes in the diatom’s chromosomes involved in creating the shells; their goal is to harness the diatom’s glass working ability to make tinier, more powerful microchips.

A bee hive benefits from bits of information shared by dancing scout bees. Now Georgia Tech engineers have borrowed ideas from honeybees to improve software for busy computer servers. While their computer program doesn’t use actual dancing, it does collect and process information much the way bees do, improving efficiency by up to twenty five percent. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.