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Making machines from genes

It's been a while since DNA just encoded genes. During the past decade, scientists have found ways to use this celebrity of molecular biology as an electrical wire (SN: 7/13/96, p. 26), a girder for making elaborate structures, and a computing device. (SN: 8/14/99, p. 104) (SN: 9/18/99, p. 181).

In a new twist for the helical molecule, DNA takes on a role of power. It's the fuel for a device made of—guess what!—DNA.

DNA molecules are long chains of smaller molecules, called bases, designated by A, C, G, and T. Because Ts tend to bond with As, and Cs with Gs, a single strand of DNA will join, or hybridize, with a strand that has its complementary series of bases.

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