homeaboutarchivenewslettermembership!
aboutarchivemembership!
aboutarchivemembers!

Doom Runs on E. Coli Bacteria Now

posted by Jason Kottke Feb 01, 2024

Yeah, you heard me: the 1993 video game Doom, which has been ported to every platform imaginable (an Apple Pippin, a jailbroken John Deere tractor, a Peloton), can now run on a display made of phosphorescent E. coli bacteria.

Ramlan’s paper doesn’t go to the enormous trouble of actually encoding all of Doom to run in bacterial DNA, which the author describes as “a behemoth feat that I cannot even imagine approaching.” Instead, the game runs on a standard computer, with isolated E. coli cells in a standard 32x48 microwell grid serving as a crude low-res display.

After shrinking each game frame down to a 32x48 black-and-white bitmap, Ramlan describes a system whereby a display controller uses a well-known chemical repressor-operator pair to induce each individual cell in the grid to either express a fluorescent protein or not. The resulting grid of glowing bacteria (which is only simulated in Ramlan’s project) can technically be considered a display of Doom gameplay, though the lack of even grayscale shading makes the resulting image pretty indecipherable, to be honest.

Technicalities aside, that’s still pretty cool.

Discussion  1 comment

Pete Ashton

I'm adding her pronunciation of of MS-DOS as "Dee Oh Ess" to the list of things that make me feel old.

Hello! In order to leave a comment, you need to be a current kottke.org member. If you'd like to sign up for a membership to support the site, you can explore your options here.

Existing members can sign in here. If you're a former member, you can renew your membership.

Note: If you are a member and tried to log in, it didn't work, and now you're stuck in a neverending login loop of death, try disabling any ad blockers or extensions that you have installed on your browser...sometimes they can interfere with the Memberful links. Still having trouble? Email me!