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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

THE NANITES ARE COMING ! THE NANITES ARE COMING !

Shades of ST:TNG !! Science Fiction is becoming a reality!!

ST:TNG fans and sci-tech devotees will understand this post. For the uninitiate, I will explain later, and this does affect your futures.

Everyone knows that cells are living things; they are "born", reproduce, communicate with each other through chemicals or electricity,have work to do, grow old and die. Some are innocent victims of invaders; some are warriors that fight invaders and kill them. Ergo: they have wars.

There are many kinds of microscopic organisms, some of which are the above mentioned disease microbes and viruses that invade our bodies; some do not bother us but live their lives independently of a human or animal host. But all are living creatures much as we are. They, too, are born, reproduce, take in nourishment, communicate with each other, grow old and die.

Everyone also knows that technology seeks to create miniature devices , making them smaller and smaller. You see on old movies the early cordless phones, bulky things, nearly a foot long including the pencil sized antennae; now they are smaller than a playing card and almost as thin. Technology strives to make working machines ever smaller, miniaturized to the microscopic level. Machines this tiny would be extremely useful in many ways.

The Trekkers know that in the sci-fi series, Star Trek; the New Generation, machines of this type had already been developed,called nanites, and were programmed like computers to perform tasks. In this generation the field of nanotechnology is in its infancy but holds great
promise. The nanites are coming.

Now science is developing a nanite-like microbe, a living microscopic creature which can be programmed to perform tasks through genetic manipulation. This field is also in its infancy but the creators are advancing rapidly. The "bio-nanites" are coming.

"Custom Made Microbes at Your Service"; the New York Times, 1/17/06.
'Synthetic biologists seek to create living machines and biological devices that can perform novel tasks.'
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/17/science/17synt.html

Anyone out there who is still puzzled about nanites? Google "nanotechnology" for info on the non-biological kind. Or click on:
"The Ethics of Nanotechnology", by Andrew Chen
www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/chen.html

In my lifetime I have seen many science fiction subjects become a reality.
In my 96 year old mother's lifetime, she has seen even more. Events and matters that are commonplace to this generation would have been a foolish, impossible fantasy in her youth. This past century has been a time of explosive technological and scientific achievement.

I wonder if the time will come when the tiny machines will be combined with the biological organisms, to make microscopic "Borgs".

(We needed a brief break from politics. This news item was interesting.
Comment from any science minded readers? I'd like more links on this subject if you have any).

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