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经济学人:制造计算机存储器的新奇方法

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Science and technology.

科技。
Nanotechnology.
纳米技术。
A fab result.
生物工厂。
A novel way of making computer memories, using bacteria.
制造计算机存储器的新奇方法:使用细菌。
FOR half a century, the essence of progress in the computer industry has been to do more with less. Moore's law famously observes that the number of transistors which can be crammed into a given space doubles every 18 months. The amount of data that can be stored has grown at a similar rate. Yet as components get smaller, making them gets harder and more expensive. On May 10th Paul Otellini, the boss of Intel, a big American chipmaker, put the price of a new chip factory (known as a fab) at around $10 billion.
半个世纪以来,计算机产业发展的本质就是花钱更少,成事更多。摩尔定律的著名论断是:能够放入某空间内的晶体管数量每18个月翻一番。。储存的数据也有着类似的增长速率,但是随着部件越来越小,它们的制造难度和成本也逐渐增加。5月10日,美国芯片巨头因特尔总裁兼CEOPaul Otellini宣布将花费上百亿美元建设新工厂。
Happily for those that lack Intel's resources, there may be a cheaper option-namely to mimic Mother Nature, who has been building tiny devices, in the form of living cells and their components, for billions of years, and has thus got rather good at it. A paper published in Small, a nanotechnology journal, sets out the latest example of the technique. In it, a group of researchers led by Sarah Staniland at the University of Leeds, in Britain, describe using naturally occurring proteins to make arrays of tiny magnets, similar to those employed to store information in disk drives.
对于不像因特尔那么有钱的厂家的好消息是,他们或许可以选择更便宜的方式——模拟大自然。对于大自然来说,她建造微小"设备"已经有数十亿年了,所以自然是信手拈来,当然,这些"设备"都是以活细胞和其组份的形式呈现。发表在纳米技术期刊《微小》的一篇论文描述了这一新技术的示例,该技术团队由英国利兹大学的Sarah Staniland领导,他们用自然生成的蛋白质让微型磁性材料进行排列,这与磁盘驱动器上储存信息的磁性材料排序是类似的。
The researchers took their inspiration from Magnetospirillum magneticum, a bacterium that is sensitive to the Earth's magnetic field thanks to the presence within its cells of flecks of magnetite, a form of iron oxide. Previous work has isolated the protein that makes these miniature compasses. Using genetic engineering, the team managed to persuade a different bacterium-Escherichia coli, a ubiquitous critter that is a workhorse of biotechnology-to manufacture this protein in bulk.
研究人员从趋磁细菌上获得了灵感,由于该细菌内部存在磁性颗粒(氧化铁的一种),所以对地球磁场非常敏感。他们先要把制造这种微型"罗盘"的蛋白质分离出来,并采用基因工程技术设法让另一种细菌——大肠杆菌来批量生产这种蛋白质,而大肠杆菌在生物体内普遍存在,是生物工程中的常用"苦力"。
Next, they imprinted a block of gold with a microscopic chessboard pattern of chemicals. Half the squares contained anchoring points for the protein. The other half were left untreated as controls. They then dipped the gold into a solution containing the protein, allowing it to bind to the treated squares, and dunked the whole lot into a heated solution of iron salts. After that, they examined the results with an electron microscope. Sure enough, groups of magnetite grains had materialised on the treated squares, shepherded into place by the bacterial protein. In principle, each of these magnetic domains could store the "one" or the "zero" of a bit of information, according to how it was polarised.
然后他们用化学方法绘制微小的棋盘图案,并把图案的每一块染成金黄色,每块区域的一半用该蛋白质做固定点,另一半不做任何处理作为对照,再把这些金黄色的"棋盘"浸入含蛋白质的溶液中,并允许溶液中的蛋白质与棋盘上的固定蛋白质结合,最后把该"棋盘"全部浸入加热的铁盐溶液中。他们再用电子显微镜观察实验结果,果然,"棋盘"上的固定蛋白质区域产生了成群的磁铁颗粒,并由细菌蛋白质控制在相应位置。基本上每个磁域都能按极化的方式存储一个字节信息的"1"或"0"。
Getting from there to a real computer memory would be a long road. For a start, the grains of magnetite are not strong enough magnets to make a useful memory, and the size of each domain (20 microns across) is huge by modern computing standards. But Dr Staniland reckons that, with enough tweaking, both of these objections could be dealt with.
但是要制成真正的计算机存储器还有很长的路要走,首先对于可用的存储器来说,那些磁铁颗粒的磁性还不够强大,并且每个区域的尺寸(20微米的跨度)对现在计算机标准来说太大了。但Staniland认为,只要做些足够的调整,那些困难都将不是问题。
The advantage of this approach is that it might not be so capital-intensive as building a fab. Growing things does not need as much kit as making them. If the tweaking could be done, therefore, the result might give the word "biotechnology" a whole new meaning.
这种方法的好处就是不用像因特尔那样如此资源密集地去建造新工厂,在制造不断发展的产品时也不需要同样多的设备,所以,如果这种调整可以成功的话,"生物技术"将会有一个全新的定义。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
manufacture [.mænju'fæktʃə]

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n. (复)产品,制造,制造业
v. 制造,捏

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bacterium [bæk'tiəriəm]

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n. 细菌

 
drives

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n. 驱动器;驱动力;驱动程序(drive的复数形式)

 
protein ['prəuti:n]

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n. 蛋白质

 
presence ['prezns]

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n. 出席,到场,存在
n. 仪态,风度

 
ubiquitous [ju:'bikwitəs]

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adj. 到处存在的,遍在的

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genetic [dʒi'netik]

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adj. 基因的,遗传的,起源的

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untreated

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adj. 未经治疗的;未经处理的

 
sensitive ['sensitiv]

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adj. 敏感的,灵敏的,易受伤害的,感光的,善解人意的

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previous ['pri:vjəs]

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adj. 在 ... 之前,先,前,以前的

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关键字: 计算机 存储器 方法

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