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.
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.
My family and I recently visted the Historical Electronics Museum (see http://www.hem-usa.org/ ) in Linthicum, Maryland. Along with an amazing treasure trove of defense electronics is a case containing several very interesting cryptology artifacts from the World War II era, including an Enigma machine. Pam thought it was the coolest thing in the museum, and we all spent quite some time admiring it, along with some other contemporary artifacts.
Enigma Machine from the Historical Electronics Museum
I you haven’t had the opportunity to vist the HEM, it is certainly worth the trip- it is very near BWI Airport right outside of Baltimore. It is free and open to the public, but be sure and check the hours carefully on the website, since they are a bit irregular. If you have kids, there are lots of great hands-on exhibits that explain electronics science and techology, which both my 11-year old and 8-year old daughters really enjoyed. Given that they wanted to go back again almost immediately, it is certainly a fun place for them.