The Future of Engineering: DNA Computers

2003 Engineers: Changing the World Essay Contest
3rd Place Winner in Grades 9-12

By Rider Clauss

The most significant technology in the future of engineering is DNA computers. DNA is what makes up your genes and stores all the information about you inside your cells. It is the instructions for what you look like and how your function. Each microscopic cell in your body contains all the DNA needed to build you, which is a lot of information. DNA not only has huge data storage potential but also the potential to solve complicated calculations and mathematical problems.

Right now, humans are very dependant on computers and are relying on computer technology to keep increasing at the rate it is. Soon silicon based microprocessors aren't going to be able to be made any more powerful. Microprocessors will become obsolete and a replacement will be needed. DNA computers are the replacement.

DNA computers are a very new concept. The idea was conceived just eight years ago. But in just eight years, scientists have already been able to use DNA to solve moderately difficult math problems. DNA computers are still decades away from being able to compete with silicon based computers, but will eventually be much more powerful than silicon based computers. The first DNA computers will not be like a home PC. They will be used to solve huge, complicated mathematical problems, such as breaking codes.

DNA computers will be thousands of times smaller and more powerful than silicon based computers. One pound of DNA has ability to store more data than every electronic devices ever made to date. A water droplet sized DNA computers will have more computing power than today's most powerful supercomputers. Another advantage of DNA computing over silicon based computers is the ability to do parallel calculations. Silicon based microprocessors can only do on calculation at a time while DNA computer will be able to do many simultaneous calculations.

Our society is becoming increasingly reliant on computers and will need faster and faster computers. DNA computers have to potential to provide that and more. The creation of practical DNA computers will start a whole new computer revolution.