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Making Computer Memory From a Virus 196

An Ac writes, "By coating 30-nanometre-long chunks of tobacco mosaic virus with platinum nanoparticles, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have created a transistor with very fast switching speed. They say it could eventually be used to make memory chips for MP3 players and digital cameras. A device fitted with such a virus-chip would access data much more quickly than one using flash memory."
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Making Computer Memory From a Virus

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  • by Loconut1389 ( 455297 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:10AM (#16318197)
    What if I drop the thing and cut myself on the memory? Will I get songs stuck in my head forever?
  • If you can't beat them, join them!
  • Buzzzzzwords! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tygerstripes ( 832644 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:17AM (#16318223)
    Tobacco, virus, nanotech... oh my!

    I can't wait to see how quickly this tech is misunderstood by politicians and eco-warriors!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 )
      Will the NCSA get involved because of the infringement on Mosaic?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dpmapping ( 873820 )
      Good job the internet is made of Pipes!!!
      Now we have something to put in those Pipes...
    • By [doing somehing neato sounding] to [something mundane] using [some buzzy tech], researchers [somewhere], have created ["a mouse trap" with the -potential- to maybe, possibly, someday be harder/faster/stronger/more betterrer]. They say it could eventually be used to make [some pervasive commodity] for [some everyday domestic gadget AND military gadgets that will save US souls]. [Researchers will accept cash, cheque, visa and 10+ year extended research contracts]
  • Last time (Score:3, Funny)

    by jlebrech ( 810586 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:19AM (#16318229) Homepage
    The last time I had a virus, I ended up with less memory.
    • I can't wait until designer prankster viruses come out. Imagine that instead of becoming sick, weird things happened to people. They might really! stink for a day, have their tongue turn numb, develop inappropriate laughter, only want to eat orange colored food, etc.

      Might be kinda of fun - it would be like gold(?) kryptonite, but for people. Gold (I think) kryptonite had weird unpredictable effects of Superman. It might make the world a little more fun. Imagine going to some very stuffy conservative pl
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TrekkieGod ( 627867 )
        it would be like gold(?) kryptonite, but for people. Gold (I think) kryptonite had weird unpredictable effects of Superman.

        That would be red. Gold kryptonite could permanently remove his powers.

        This was just a test to bring us ultra nerds out in the open wasn't it? Damn, alright I confess. I'm not just a trekkie, I'm a comic book guy as well.

  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by arun_s ( 877518 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:20AM (#16318231) Homepage Journal
    If you've got any illegal MP3's, your player kills you.
    Judge, jury and executioner all in one!
    • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:13AM (#16318533)
      If you've got any illegal MP3's, your player kills you.
      Judge, jury and executioner all in one!

      So what you are hypothesizing is that in a few years we will see a Microsoft Zune or iPods with Sony EbolaFlash® memory chip technology.
      • So what you are hypothesizing is that in a few years we will see a Microsoft Zune or iPods with Sony EbolaFlash® memory chip technology.

        I just patented, copyrighted this technology. You will now have to pay me 1,000,000$ each time your post is viewed.
    • by nizo ( 81281 ) *
      It would be interesting to find out we are the equivalent to this process, and some higher lifeform (say, TFSM) is using us to store his music.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Soemthing that typically reads 128kbps doesn't exactly require heaps of bandwidth.

    Why isn't this suitable for general purpose memory, or cache?
    • by dk-software-engineer ( 980441 ) * on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:10AM (#16318517)
      Soemthing that typically reads 128kbps doesn't exactly require heaps of bandwidth.
      It does when I update it, or just use it for generic data-transfer.
    • I see two possible reasons to use the MP3 player in the abstract:
      1- it is a non-volatile RAM. Flash is OK, but it has some drawbacks, in particular with the need to erase a full block to revert a 0 into a 1, which is quite long (several ms with the one I worked with). Of course, for a MP3 player, it's not a big problem since the data dosn't change that often.
      2- the author can't tell the difference.

      So I would tend to agree with you. Either way, MP3 player is very unlikely to be the initial target for any kin
  • Logical evolution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zeropointburn ( 975618 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:26AM (#16318265) Journal
    DNA on silicon has already been done. Why not use a virus as scaffolding for memory, while we're at it? Granted, the virus' surface proteins are a functional part of the transistor. Given that we can already attach complex proteins (well, acids such as DNA) to silicon, there shouldn't be much trouble finding a method for similar tricks here. In other words, this is more practiceable than it sounds at first. I do wonder whether the virii or silicon traces are more resistant to heat, vibration, and radiation, though.
  • I hear she's campaigning not to have have this technology used in any russian research vessels.
  • by Maddog Batty ( 112434 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:35AM (#16318325) Homepage
    100 microsecond switch speed is very very slow for modern transistors (mentioned in article). What am I missing here? Is there a mistake in the article?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noigmn ( 929935 )
      But think about how good it will be when they can do these things with higher level lifeforms. For instance if we could use people to switch things and their brains to do complex calculations and somehow network them together using some form of complex communication made up of various sequences of sound...
    • Form the rest of the article (us instead of ms to display and image), that "100 us" switch time is likely to be wrong by at least 6 orders of magnitude (or else the tech is pointless since it couldn't be scalled down in the future).
    • by db32 ( 862117 )
      If the numbers are correct I imagine its just a lack of clarity in the comparison. A bicycle is 'very fast' compared to a skateboard, but not to a car.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:36AM (#16318339) Homepage Journal
    the "basic research == future product" meme. For fuck sake. I bet if you were to go back the last 5 years and collect up all these articles and do a little survey of whether or not ANY of these bullshit descriptions of future products have come to pass you would find that NONE of them have. Why? Because if you discover something that could be turned into a product, you don't tell the world; you go find a venture capitalist and make the damn product.

    • Agreed! Finally, someone else that sees through the bullshit. The science is great, but touting future uses, especially something as specific as an MP3 player, is ridiculous; leave the applications to the engineers.
    • by teslar ( 706653 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:10AM (#16318523)
      You obviously have a point, but I think this (and all previous instances you refer to) is just a spin to keep funding bodies and marketing droids happy. Use your research to answer some fundamental philosophical questions on life, the universe and everything or whatever and you'll get a big yawn. Say that you're using nanotech, use the words "faster memory", "ipod" and "could replace flash" in one sentence, basically make dollar signs appear in the marketing droids' eyes, and you get to be in the news everywhere, people notice you and the next grant application should go a lot smoother.
      • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
        I know this. You know this. Everyone on Slashdot knows this. So why do the, *ahem*, "editors" continue to accept stories that propagate this meme?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ArwynH ( 883499 )

          Because lots of slashdot readers like to hear about technology that's being developed? Sure, the predictions are usually marketing speach, but the fact that the tech is being developed isn't.

          Dunno about you, but hearing that someone is trying to coat viruses in silicon to make faster memory gives me a kind of warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside.

    • by eples ( 239989 ) *
      I agree with that sentiment, it's totally outdated and leftover from the 1950's.
      And why is it always products? "Buy Buy Buy Want Want Want" *sigh*
    • I remember hearing of 3d printers I D=1 [] on slashdot and couldn't imagine seeing a prototype in my lifetime. Now they're available off the shelf, just a few years later.

      An article about hard disks lining up charges vertically instead of horizontally along the track preceded today's ~1tb hard drives.

      I'm sure there are a half-dozen other examples I cant think of.

      Why does dreaming make you so uncomfortable? It's what we do.
      • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
        I remember seeing that stuff too, it wasn't basic research, it was research into production of a product. That's the difference.
        • When I saw it, it was basic research--college stuff. Trust me, it happens. If it's good, it gets into a product. Just wait.
  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:41AM (#16318371) Homepage Journal
    "you have a virus in memory"

    "i know, my memory is made of viruses"

    "no, i mean, there is a memory resident virus on your computer"

    "no, the memory resides on the viruses"

    "let me rephrase: your memory, made of viruses, has a virus"

    "so you're telling me i have more viruses... so i have more memory? yeah!"

    "no, this is a bad thing, you don't want viruses on your computer"

    "you told me last week i want the most memory i can on my computer, and that's made of viruses"

    "yes... i mean no, i mean..." (smacks forehead)
    • So, when you run the antivirus, does it disassemble the RNA as well?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lisaparratt ( 752068 )
      Scan complete!

      Viruses found!

      A new record!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        That is not a small number! That is a BIG number!

        Chris Mattern
      • You laugh... but the reason I retired from fixing friends' computers was similar to that.... She called me up complaining that her computer was running a little slow. The result of a virus scan? 4 files on her computer *weren't* infected with something. Over 118,000 infected files, comprising more than 1000 known viruses.

        "You don't play video games, right?"

        "Uh, no. I just want it for Internet, downloading, and chatting."

        "Oookay... Let me introduce you to this thing called Linux."
  • Steve (a veganist) won't have any of this. Living creatures serving as memory. Yuk!
  • In the United States of America your computer runs on a virus!
  • by StringBlade ( 557322 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:16AM (#16318545) Journal
    Not only does it run faster than conventional memory, it's an anti-smoking chip: if it catches you smoking at the computer it infects your cigar/cigarette with itself []
  • Now this gives a whole new meaning to biological warfare, chip-targeting bioweapons on the rise.
  • What about the children?
    What if it becomes sentient?
    We would have:
    • A Cigarette That Spies!
    • Terrorist Tomato Plots!
    • Substitute Foods Made of Foam Rubber!

    No, wait, that last item already happened....
  • The first? (Score:3, Funny)

    by gmby ( 205626 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:38AM (#16318637)
    So is this the first analog computer virus?

    Your search - "analog computer virus" - did not match any documents.

    Looks like google agrees.
  • by Sir Homer ( 549339 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:49AM (#16318685)
    If the virus starts replicating, are they commiting copyright violation?

    How will the RIAA sue? I'm sure they will find a way.
  • It will come pre-loaded with viral material saving you the time and effort of gathering it yourself.
  •'s a feature! Although, doesn't Microsoft have a patent on calling a virus a product?
  • Like imagine accidently killing the memory while cleaning. Or the overclockers feeding their memory stuff to help it clone itself.
  • by ratherpedestrian ( 764909 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:19AM (#16318871)
    Chemical name of Dahlemense Strain of Tobacco Mosaic Virus is 3rd longest in English language, apparently (not sure I'd want to have a conversation with anyone who thinks this is really a valid English word, but anyway):

            acetylseryltyrosylserylisoleucylthreonylserylproly lserylglutaminyl-
            phenylalanylvalylphenylalanylleucylserylserylvalyl tryptophylalanyl-
            aspartylprolylisoleucylglutamylleucylleucylasparag inylvalylcysteinyl-
            threonylserylserylleucylglycylasparaginylglutaminy lphenylalanyl-
            glutaminylthreonylglutaminylglutaminylalanylarginy lthreonylthreonyl-
            glutaminylvalylglutaminylglutaminylphenylalanylser ylglutaminylvalyl-
            tryptophyllysylprolylphenylalanylprolylglutaminyls erylthreonylvalyl-
            arginylphenylalanylprolylglycylaspartylvalyltyrosy llysylvalyltyrosyl-
            arginyltyrosylasparaginylalanylvalylleucylaspartyl prolylleucylisoleucyl-
            threonylalanylleucylleucylglycylthreonylphenylalan ylaspartylthreonyl-
            arginylasparaginylarginylisoleucylisoleucylglutamy lvalylglutamyl-
            asparaginylglutaminylglutaminylserylprolylthreonyl threonylalanylglutamyl-
            threonylleucylaspartylalanylthreonylarginylarginyl valylaspartylaspartyl-
            alanylthreonylvalylalanylisoleucylarginylserylalan ylasparaginylisoleucyl-
            asparaginylleucylvalylasparaginylglutamylleucylval ylarginylglycyl-
            threonylglycylleucyltyrosylasparaginylglutaminylas paraginylthreonyl-
            phenylalanylglutamylserylmethionylserylglycylleucy lvalyltryptophyl-
  • by giafly ( 926567 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:39AM (#16318985)
    What will those crazy scientists bling next?
  • Temperature? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Plutonite ( 999141 )
    Even virus RNA and cell wall can disintegrate at high temps. Will my memory melt if the cooling is not perfect?
  • It's hard to imagine the Vorlons ever grooved to Ol' Dirty Bastard, but this could be one small step.

  • The problem with all these new super technologies is they rarely catch up in cost-performance to silicon. I usually hear of an idea liek this every month, but maybe one or two such technologies become commercial per decade.
  • Till this memory comes into play in standard PC's so i can install virus protection software on it. Irony!
  • Living? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Sienf ( 971571 )
    Yeah, and what happens if people will reconsider that viruses might be living?

    Next thing we know, PETA will be protesting against using the poor buggers in transistors.
  • Computer viruses don't work like they used to.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly