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Pensu
Pensu • Apr 17, 2012

Scientists Develop Crab Powered Computer, Oh Really!

When Charles Babbage first invented the computer, I bet he didn’t know what it would evolve into! Since ages, computers are running on electricity and researchers have been trying to find out an alternative source of powering it. It looks like now the crabs will lead the evolution! Scientists at Kobe University have found a way to power computers through crab swarms. They have succeeded to develop a basic computer which can implement OR and AND gates using swarm of crabs.

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Researchers have tried different alternative sources to power a computer like chemical reactions, sand, wind etc. But this is possibly the first time someone has taken a big step in development of a biological computer. Yukio-Pegio Gunji and Yuta Nishiyama form Kobe University, Japan teamed up with Andrew Adamatzky from University of West England, United Kingdom and developed a basic model of a computer which can be powered by swarm of crabs. The basic idea behind this research comes from the billiard ball theory proposed by Edward Fredkin and Tommaso Toffoli. They idealize a computer made by billiard balls, which can be used to implement logic gates. In a basic computer the bits 0 and 1 are denoted by the variation of voltage, but here these bits are replaced by absence and presence of crabs. According to their research when two swarms of crabs meet then their resultant velocity is equal to the sum of the individual velocities. This is the basic principle behind OR gate. Keeping these observations in mind the team build a geometrically constrained environment which works like logic gates. The movement of crabs can be controlled by a fake shadow of any crab eating bird.

During the real implementation they used acrylic plastic plates for the construction of gates, an orange colored intimidation plate and 40 crabs. As a result they were able to get decent outputs from OR gate implementation. But the more complicated AND gate didn’t provide much reliable results. According to Yoki, “Although the experiment implemented by real soldier crabs is just a preliminary work, the performance of the AND gate is not bad”.  The idea is relatively new and highly unlikely to get adopted, but this computer has opened some new doors for researchers to work in the direction of more feasible biological computers.

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