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Fwd = Radio emerges from the electronic soup

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl (Frits Westra) URL: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992732 Original Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2002
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2002
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      Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
      URL: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992732
      Original Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2002 07:16:31 -0500

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      Radio emerges from the electronic soup

      16:00 31 August 02

      Exclusive from New Scientist

      A self-organising electronic circuit has stunned engineers by turning
      itself into a radio receiver.

      This accidental reinvention of the radio followed an experiment to see
      if an automated design process, that uses an evolutionary computer
      program, could be used to "breed" an electronic circuit called an
      oscillator. An oscillator produces a repetitive electronic signal,
      usually in the form of a sine wave.

      Paul Layzell and Jon Bird at the University of Sussex in Brighton
      applied the program to a simple arrangement of transistors and found
      that an oscillating output did indeed evolve.

      But when they looked more closely they found that, despite producing
      an oscillating signal, the circuit itself was not actually an
      oscillator. Instead, it was behaving more like a radio receiver,
      picking up a signal from a nearby computer and delivering it as an
      output.

      In essence, the evolving circuit had cheated, relaying oscillations
      generated elsewhere, rather than generating its own.

      Gene mixing

      Layzell and Bird were using the software to control the connections
      between 10 transistors plugged into a circuit board that was fitted
      with programmable switches. The switches made it possible to connect
      the transistors differently.

      Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

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