Use Steganography by Printed Arrays of Microbes For Secret Messages!
Steganography by printed arrays of microbes is a unique means of sending secret messages that would have amazed Edgar Allen Poe, who lived his entire life thinking invisible ink was cool.
Manuel Palacios, a chemist at Tufts University in Medford Massachusetts, and his colleagues took a simpler approach by encrypting messages using seven strains of Escherichia coli bacteria. Each one was engineered to produce a different fluorescent protein, which glows in a different colour under the right light.
"We really wanted to use easily observable traits," says Palacios. Techniques such as Venter's require sophisticated equipment to sequence the DNA and unlock the message. "In our case, light-emitting diodes and an iPhone would do," notes Palacios.
Colonies of bacteria are grown in rows of paired spots, every combination of two colours corresponding to a different letter, digit or symbol. For example, two yellow spots signify a 't', whereas an orange and a green spot denote a 'd'. Once grown, the pattern of colonies is imprinted onto a nitrocellulose sheet, which is posted in an envelope. The recipient can use the sheet to regrow the bacteria in the same pattern and decipher the message.
By choosing the right E. coli strains, people could send messages that appear after specific periods of time, or slowly degenerate like the self-destructing memos from the television programme and film series Mission: Impossible.
Palacios has also developed ways to turn antibiotics into keys that unlock the hidden messages, by linking the genes for the fluorescent proteins to the ability to resist specific antibiotics.
In his recently published 2011 novel Spiral, Paul McEuen uses a similar idea to present a message using genetically modified fungi.
The three [fungi] symbols glowed, pulsing. She studied them closely. [Liam] must have worked very hard to get them to turn on and off like that. It was a biological feedback loop, she knew. Express the green fluorescent protein pathway from the Aequorea victoria jellyfish, then have that expression induce the creation of a suppressor that would turn it off...
The red. A long pulse, then two shorter.
The green one. A long pulse, then short.
The yellow. A short pulse, followed by a longer one.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/15/2011)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?' - Niven, Pournelle, Flynn, 1995.
Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!' -
Worms Eat Plastic Now
'Slowly and inexorably, the rate of dissolution increased...' - Davis/Pedlar, 1971.
Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.' - Peter Watts, 1999.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Made In Space To Manufacture Optical Fiber In Orbit
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'
Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Yet another power source from humans.
Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'
Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap
Just like capsule endoscopy, but for bigger pipes. That go underground.
Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'
NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.
Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'
SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'
Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'
Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'
Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.
Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?
Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'
iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.
Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories