Add bacteria to the list of things that can run Doom

Frame rate would be even worse than the original, though. MUCH worse

From teletext to pregnancy tests and even tractors, Doom has long been a target of hackers trying to get the seminal 1993 shooter running in the strangest of places. But this one frags them all.

In a somewhat groundbreaking yet bizarre scientific feat, MIT biotechnology PhD student researcher Lauren "Ren" Ramlan has coaxed a simulation of the humble E. coli bacteria into a rudimentary screen capable of displaying the iconic video game.

However, before you get too excited about playing games in a petri dish, there's a catch. According to Ramlan's simulation, displaying a single frame of Doom on these bioluminescent bacteria – should anyone attempt to do this with the real thing – would take roughly 70 minutes, with a full reset to the bacteria's original state taking a whopping eight hours and 20 minutes.

Dubbed a step into the world of biological screens, Ramlan engineered a system where the bacteria would function as 1-bit pixels, toggling between light and dark states. This bio-display utilizes a well plate in a 32x48 array, each containing genetically modified E. coli that can be induced to fluoresce, creating a grid of pixel-like structures.

But don't start planning your bio-gaming sessions just yet. At the snail's pace of this bacterial monitor, playing through the average Doom game would take nearly 600 years using Ramlan's specific simulation. She notes that it takes "a total of 8 hours and 20 minutes for the cell to return approximately to the starting state."

While the original has a hardcoded cap at a tolerable 35 frames per second, this microbial display has such a glacial frame rate you'll be yearning for dial-up internet.

Ramlan is optimistic about the future, though, suggesting potential improvements that could speed up the process. In the meantime, E. coli would be more suited to a very, very slow-moving art display than any form of interactive entertainment.

So, for now, it might be best to stick to traditional screens for your gaming needs, unless you have a few centuries to spare for a single playthrough. ®

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