Flipping over to alternate energy sources isn't just the rage in vehicles, as we've seen steam-powered and string-powered computers already, and now we're witnessing an oddity that's actually energized by bubbles. The "microfluidic" computer performs calculations by squeezing bubbles through tiny channels etched into a chip, and although it runs around 1,000 times slower than you're average desktop today and takes up quite a bit more room, no AC outlet is required to churn out chemical analysis. Manu Prakash and Neil Gershenfeld of the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms created the devices by "etching channels about one micron wide into silicon, and then using nitrogen bubbles contained in water to represent bits of information flowing through these channels." The computer utilizes Boolean logic functions to carry out its work, and the researchers are already envisioning it carrying bubbles of molecules or individual cells to "conduct diagnostics or detect pathogens." We'll admit, a bubble-powered PC ain't too shabby, but even proponents fessed up that such a snail isn't putting modern day machine vendors out of business anytime soon.

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Microfluidic computer runs on bubbles, deals in chemical analysis