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MIT scientist ran Doom on E. coli cells in an experiment that sounds like sci-fi

Published Feb 5th, 2024 2:24PM EST
Doom running on e. coli cells
Image: LAUREN RAMLAN / YOUTUBE

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It’s crazy to think of how far video games have come since the original Doom release in 1993. But, as iconic of a game as it is, what has even become more iconic than the game itself is getting it to run on tons of different things. In fact, we’ve seen Doom play on a myriad of things. And now, some scientists have even managed to run Doom on E. coli cells.

Yes, you read that correctly. An MIT doctoral candidate by the name of Lauren “Ren” Ramlan has shared video proof of Doom running on cells. Ramlan admitted that the feat was something that she couldn’t even imagine approaching in a video detailing the accomplishment. However, as we now know, Ramlan was indeed able to pull it off.

The idea was spawned by a culture of “Doom runs on everything,” which has seen the iconic 1993 game appearing on fridges, old cell phones, and tons of other novel devices. We’ve even seen Doom played with a single key. However, there’s nothing more novel than getting Doom to play on E. coli cells, is there?

You can check out the video, which we’ve embedded above for a bit more info on how Ramlan was able to pull off such an amazing feat. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen scientists getting Doom to run on crazy things. In 2006, we saw a British researcher running the iconic game on an oscilloscope monitor, which helped birth the meme of Doom runs on everything, or DROE.

Nevertheless, getting Doom to run on E. coli cells is a massive feat that is well worthy of praise. Ramlan says she was able to achieve this feat by using previous research that got brain cells to play Pong. By using what scientists have already accomplished, Ramlan was able to get individual cells on an array to serve as single pixels, lighting up the pattern of Doom‘s frames using a fluorescent protein.

Ramlan then combined that accomplishment with a genetic system running off some Python code, allowing the cells to illuminate and showcase Doom. Altogether, it took around 70 minutes for the cells to illuminate, Ramlan says, and another eight for them to return back to a blank frame.

If you were to play Doom on E. coli cells, it would take roughly 600 years, Ramlan says, based on the results that the MIT student was able to accomplish.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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