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Carbon – the first frontier of information processing

Patel, Apoorva (2002) Carbon – the first frontier of information processing. In: Journal of Biosciences, 27 (3). pp. 207-218.


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Information is often encoded as an aperiodic chain of building blocks. Modern digital computers use bits as the building blocks, but in general the choice of building blocks depends on the nature of the information to be encoded. What are the optimal building blocks to encode structural information? This can be analysed by substituting the operations of addition and multiplication of conventional arithmetic with translation and rotation. It is argued that at the molecular level, the best component for encoding discretized structural information is carbon. Living organisms discovered this billions of years ago, and used carbon as the back-bone for constructing proteins that function according to their structure. Structural analysis of polypeptide chains shows that an efficient and versatile structural language of 20 building blocks is needed to implement all the tasks carried out by proteins. Properties of amino acids indicate that the present triplet genetic code was preceded by a more primitive one, coding for 10 amino acids using two nucleotide bases.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Journal of Biosciences
Publisher: Indian Academy of Sciences
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Indian Academy of Sciences.
Keywords: Amino acid;Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase;Computation;Genetic code;Information;Lattice models;Protein structure;Quantum search;Tetrahedral geometry
Department/Centre: Division of Interdisciplinary Sciences > Supercomputer Education & Research Centre
Division of Physical & Mathematical Sciences > Centre for Theoretical Studies (Ceased to exist at the end of 2003)
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2007
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:40
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/12350

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