DNA Cryptography

Diagram showing how DNA cryptography can work

For those folks that saw the Biomolecular Cryptology talk at This article in Technology Review talks about how DNA can be used to also encode data.  This approach leverages some deep properties of DNA biology, transcription and translation to enable a “public key” approach in which proteins (or their virtual equivalent) can be exchanged as a kind of public key, allowing the decoding of the underlying data encoded in DNA.  It is an interesting compliment to the so-called DNA stegnography, in which messages are encoded directly in the DNA bases, in something like a Caesar Cipher.

The paper appears to have some weaknesses in the cryptography, but I am nowhere near expert enough to be an effective judge- I wish that the paper has better references.  Perhaps some of our HacDC cryptography experts would be interested in giving it a go!

The details can be found in the paper here on arxiv.

Robotcast Video Podcast on the HacDC RepRap Build-a-Thon

HacDC RepRap on Robotcast

Wow!  HacDC friend Carl Leonard has done it again!  His most recent (and always fantastic) “Robotcast” video podcast is all about the RepRap Build-a-Thon we had at the HacDC space last month.  Great video of a bunch of interesting and enthusiastic folks building robots, with a surprise appearance by Adrian Bower.  It is kind of a music video for hardcore hackers, and nicely shows off the space and people of HacDC.  Thanks and props to Carl for sharing it with us and the world!

A big step closer to nanoscale assembly

Photo (CC) jurvetson from Flickr

One of the key steps in the development of molecular-scale assembly is the creation of similarly-sized assembly tools that have sufficient accuracy and reproducibility to place atoms in exactly where they need to be, following a predefined plan.  Researchers in New York and China have been able to create a nanoscale robot that can place molecular components accurately at atomic scale.  The real breakthrough appears to be the unique error-correcting mechanisms that they implemented.

The details can be found in this paper in Nature Nanotechnology, and a nice overview is here at the NanoWerk blog.

Hack the Genome Shmoocon Presentation


Had a bunch of really interested folks at the “Hack the Genome, the age of biomolecular cryptography” talk today at Shmoocon.  Lots of fantastic ideas and great discussions afterwards with interested hackers.  It is great to see how much creative knowledge and energy there is in our community.  I was asked to share my slides, so I have put them up on my site over at Radio Free Genome, and you can download the presentation directly from here.