It's not exactly "ET, phone home," but MIT researchers reported in the Jan. 10 issue of Nature that they can "speak" to DNA biomolecules with radio waves.
The goal is to instruct biological materials how to act for a variety of purposes. Biological machines may one day be used to perform computation, assemble computer components or become part of computer hardware or circuitry. Radio-controlled biology may lead to single-atom or single-molecule machines, or the ability to hook tiny antennae into living systems to turn genes on and off.
"Recent studies have provided new insights into the complexity, precision and efficiency of biomolecular machines at the molecular scale, inspiring the development of physical and chemical manipulation of biological systems," said Joseph M. Jacobson, associate professor at the Media Lab and one of the paper's authors. "Manipulation of DNA is interesting because it has been shown recently that is has potential as an actuator (a hard drive component) and can be used to perform computational operations."