A DNA Computer Just Computed Square Root of 900

· Andrew Orr · Link

DNA strand

Researchers at the University of Rochester created a computer that uses 32 DNA strands to store and process information. It can calculate the square root of square numbers 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 and so on up to 900.

To start, the team encodes a number onto the DNA using a combination of ten building blocks. Each combination represents a different number up to 900, and is attached to a fluorescence marker.

The team then controls hybridisation in such a way that it changes the overall fluorescent signal so that it corresponds to the square root of the original number. The number can then be deduced from the colour.

Pentagon Warns Military Not to Use Home DNA Kits

· Andrew Orr · Link

DNA strand

A Department of Defense memo warns U.S. military members about the privacy risks of home DNA kits.

The memo provides little details on how genetic profiles could endanger security, other than noting that potential “inaccuracies” in health information could pose a risk to military personnel, who are required to report medical issues. Most of the health reports provided by DNA companies typically pertain to medical risks, though, such as a predisposition to cancer, rather than diagnosing a condition.

Judge Rules Cops can Search Through DNA Database GEDmatch

· Andrew Orr · Link

A judge recently ruled that law enforcement have the ability to search through DNA database GEDmatch, overriding the choice of its over one million users.

In the wake of that attention-grabbing case, GEDmatch changed its policies in May 2018 to make it less easy for police to access their data. Users now have to opt in to having their data made available to police; information they upload is set to private by default. Rogers told the NYT that as of October, less than 15% of current users, 185,000 out of 1.3 million, have opted in to sharing their data with police.

Astronaut Twin Study Finds Space Travel Can Alter DNA

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

A new study based on astronauts Scott Kelly and Mark Kelly—identical twins—found that space travel can alter DNA, at least the way we’re doing space travel now. The study found that 7% of Scott Kelly’s DNA did not return to normal after a one-year mission in space. Gizmodo noted that the change is epigenetic in nature, rather than simply genetic. It’s the way Mr. Kelly’s genes are expressed, not the genes themselves, otherwise he would now be a new species. Important semantics aside, the changes were thought to be caused by “oxygen-deprivation stress, increased inflammation, and dramatic nutrient shifts that affect gene expression,” according to CNN. It’s important to both understand and solve these kinds of issues when it comes to prolonged space flight, travel to Mars, and other space-related activities, and the Kellys being part of this study will pay untold dividends towards that understanding. The video below on the topic is from NBC.