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Nanotechnology in Medicine 102

Posted by Hemos
from the nano-enters-the-doctor's-office dept.
cencini writes "Here is an article from the MIT Technology Review regarding the future possibilities of nanotechnology in hospitals and genetic engineering. " There's been some recent coverage of the possibilites of using nanotechnology in medicine including a Wired article earlier this week. As always, this is merely one facet of what nanotechnology can - and will do.
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Nanotechnology in Medicine

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  • by Signal 11 (7608)
    Reminds me of a sci fi flick where this guy discovers a cure for cancer but doesn't want to try it on humans. But then one of his friends tells him he only has 3 months to live and is gonna die. So the scientist pumps him up with these nanites and they work great... with one minor glitch, they don't fix *just* the cancer problem. Infact, he starts growing gills, and then a third eye in the back of his head, gets some super-tough skin... the problem seems to be due to a bug in the programming they can't tell the nanites to turn off!

    Well, that was a real bummer 'cuz they finally had to kill him with about 300kV across the chest and then blow up the lab he was in. Moral of the story: if you build something so small you can't see, build an off switch into them that can't fail!

    Nanites bring up an interesting privacy concern too... since you can't see them, who's to say your employer wouldn't drop a few hundred thousand of the buggers in your office, they'd attach to your shoe, and tell you how long you were out to lunch, in the bathroom, listen in to all your phone calls, etc.? It's perfectly legal to do that now... and what are we gonna do - scan our workplace with a microscope whenever we get to work? How about computer security? Just drop a few nanites outside SuperMega Corp and in a few days they get inside all the servers and attach to the memory, modify a few POPs and PUSHes and viola, instant security breach.

  • IMHO MIT Tech Review is always a bit optimistic with time frames. Breakthrough's are always portrayed as just around the corner. I think that this view comes from working close to researchers on a regular basis - they tend to have a different mindset than the general populace.

    -JB
  • As anyone who's read Stephenson's
    • The Diamond Age
    can tell you, the really good stuff that will come from nanotech are:

    a) undersea colonies of telepathic "drummers" involved in massive gynocentric orgies
    b) free mattresses from public matter compilers
    c) that cool intelligent paper
    d) sailor moon-style armies
    e) skull guns
  • It's good to see that they're not letting the first failure stop them. The kid who volunteered to let them do that knew very well that he may not live through the procedure, but he did it anyway. He knew that some way, he'd wind up helping others. At least he didn't die in vain.

    --

    --
  • If we are able to implement nano-devices inside of cells, it would indeed create some interesting possibilities. Not only could these devices spot treat problems (infections, chemical imbalances, etc.) at their source (eliminating the need to douse the entire body in potentially harmful chemicals), they could take preventative measures against other problems (perhaps even degredation due to aging?).

    If a network of these devices were able to communicate with one another, and presumably with an external computer system, doctors could easily diagnose patients unintrusivly. If the nanomedical devices couldn't treat the problem themselves, at least they could ask for help!

    Besides the medical applications that nano sized devices have, it makes one wonder about the possibilities of adding computational power/memory to our bodies. If our hypothetical nano-network were able to communicate with our nervous system, think how much information might be stored and manipulated, even if each device individually only contributed a small amount! And it could even allow us to hook into external computer systems!

  • The improvement in communication amoung the population that has been fostered by the Internet, with Slashdot as the poster child, may mark the end of those too-good promotions where the company expects to come out ahead due to the general populations' misunderstanding of the terms of the deal.
  • Well, we're all familiar with William Gibson being pretty spot-on in the early 80s with the impact the Net and technology in general would have on our lives, with his book Neuromancer.

    In many ways his imagination has probably been the inspiration for many researchers, wanting to get things moving in the directions he comes up with. Prophecies are usually cyclical in that manner - events can tailor themselves around the prophet's tellings :)

    And so in Idoru, he talks a lot about nanotech, from construction to, ultimately, a fusion between nanotechnology and AI - the idea and implications of which are fascinating, both on a micro- and macro- scale.

    Is he pointing in the right direction again? Or are we following his call again? Nanotech really has a great potential for medicine, allowing *intelligent* manipulation on a cellular level, a far more light-handed approach than simply administering antibiotics or any of the other solutions we ingest to counter ailments or conditions.

    Ultimately, in the field of medicine, fusing AI and nanotech might create a learning "fixer cell" system, which can run round the body scanning things, and warn about, or even prevent, the onset of diseases such as cancer. Fantastic.

    Fross
  • Darn it. How did the above get posted to the wrong article? The intended betrothed was `MSN $400 Rebate in CA and OR Stopped'.

    My apologies.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Friday January 07, 2000 @06:28AM (#1394693) Homepage Journal
    Why can't we just start with some lower-tech things like implanted sugar sensors and insulin pumps. Or how about medication dispensors for bipolar disorder, etc. I know there is preliminary work being done with implanted insulin dispensors, and I guess somebody has to be thinking about way out there. Perhaps I wish that a bit more of that intellect would be directed toward making things like the implanted insulin real, sooner.

    Greg Bear touches on this with the 'therapied' people in several of his novels, and casts it in a rather Orwellian way. But there is a fine line between fixing a few known chemical disorders and mass population-drugging. Perhaps we need to explore and define that line, publicly. Otherwise no doubt governments, multinationals, NGOs, and whatever other boogymen we dig up will do it for us.

    We clearly don't want the educational system in charge of implanted ritalin.
  • Those little buggers could probably kick the crap out of some of those little AIDS bastards. Or what about infections in general? Can you imagine how creepy it would be to have your white blood cells replaced by nanobots? That'd be creepy huh? What if you had the nanobots play around with your telemirs? Then we would all live forever huh? Cool or what? Surgery would be a snap.. that's for sure. That really is a long way off though

    ~Jester
  • by T. (128661)
    Parvus sed potens.
  • Your personal nanite population is currently occupied fighting the flew, please hold...
  • their technological ideas do seem a bit optimistic. for example ). 'Photolithography tools for making state-of-the-art integrated circuits are good for making features only as small as a few hundred nanometers. By adapting these methods used in the semiconductor industry, however, Ferrari managed to create holes only a few nanometers wide.' adapt how? I thought the limits on the technology were wavelengths of radiation? are they turning out radioactive nannites?
  • As SF sometimes preceed fact, you will probably be interesting in reading Ben Nova books entitles Moonrise and Moonwar. These two novels are giving a view of a possible impact of nanotechnology on different industries.
  • The woman from Michigan said that she expects clinical trials with (nanotechnology used for gene therapy) to begin within two years. Why does everyone else seem to think this will be waiting for at least a decade? Perhaps the laws of computing apply to nanotechnology, too... (doubling every 18 months). anyway, just goes to show you that with enough funding, scientists can do just about anything - although whether they come up with the thing which the funding was for... that's of course a very different story. but it certainly appears this folks at the U. of M. have something interesting to bring to the table, not someday, but now.
  • Good article, I especially liked the silicon bubble thingy acting like a shield that the antibodies can't get through. Of course, they didn't bring up something I thought of instantly...

    If you can build a synthetic, ultra-small device capable of getting past all immune defense and infiltrating the cell, that's used exclusively for health and medical purposes, great. Bring it on. But why would thousands of researchers be interested solely in healthy applications? Something that can just breeze its way into the body's cells and muck about with the genes has an utterly fantastic potential for carnage, the likes of which this world has never seen. Can you imagine? Even simple changes, like instructing the liver to produce extremely toxic things, are just plain dastardly. And that's without even a little imagination. Jeez.

  • by dsaxena (57330) on Friday January 07, 2000 @06:37AM (#1394702)
    I think this technology is amazing, but like many other medical technologies that are available, I fear it will lead to a larger gap between rich and poor. I can just imagine a world where those with money live to ther 120's due to the wonders of modern science while the impovershid(sp??) wither away. I've said this before to friends and will say it again: technology is moving at a much faster pace than we can deal with at a socio-political level. We need to get away from scientists and engineer shoving technology into people's faces and saying "this will make your life better" to a world where there is open public discourse about a medical method before it is widely used. Somewhat of an utopian dream? Probably, but I think it's something we should work towards.
    --
    Deepak Saxena
  • by T. (128661)
    no
  • I posted a reply to the IBM Flexible Transistor [slashdot.org] story posted on Slashdot way back on Oct 29, 1999.

    Now, judging by this article, what I suggested is closer to becoming a reality.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there's some type of scientific research body doing something about combining these 2 technologies.

    For the lazy people out there, this is what I posted on Oct 29, 1999:

    "These flexible transistors can have a huge benefit to the medical community. Imagine, if you will, taking these transistors, and combining them with nano-technology. Albeit, that's at the far end of the spectrum, but still ... it makes for some interesting ideas.

    In the more immediate future, I can see them being used in prosthetic devices, tissue implants, etc.

    Combine that with tissue cloning (not sheep cloning, and not full-blown human cloning either. I'm talking just a skin covering like the Borg gave Data in the 2nd Next Generation movie ... the name escapes me at this time), and some serious AI (we're far from that still), and we'll have Cyborgs a la Terminator (a friendlier name will have to be thought of though. "Terminator" just does not emit a warm fuzy feeling. Neither does Teletubby. Something in-between would be good.)"
  • After all, there isn't a practical manmade nanotech device yet in existence.

    The benefits of nanotech are so vast that it is a waste of time trying to ennumerate them. Medical benefits can be summed up with: full capability for artificial replacement, perfect repair, and perfect control of any and all of the body. The end of all disease, and infinite potential for enhancement (clue: cyborgs are not going to be clunky mechanical things).

    IMHO, after nanotech is developed, population will explode to the point where the average individual can't afford the mass to own a solid body (at least not a biological one). This will be after we've eaten all the asteroids, all the comets, all the planets, and started mining the sun. People will just be brains with a miniscule support system and a whispy "cloud" for a body. Don't worry, it'll still look and feel like a human body, and will probably be stronger and a lot sturdier as well. Not that I think people will actually spend most of their time using their "eyes" and other physical senses; it would all be facades anyway, why not just go direct to simulation?

    Given the obvious implications of nanotech, these unambitious speculations seem awfully silly, especially when we are so far from the first assembler.
  • Having a sister-in-law going through high dosage chemo at the moment, I can attest to the need for more pinpoint delivery methods. Everybody reading /. probably remembers the promise of Buckyballs for undetectable delivery methods. Lots of research is happening in this area and it's good to see some of it make some public progress. It's also good for people to start realizing that chemical engineering is a good, current way of getting nanotech things done rather than having to rely on the programmed, atom by atom assemblers and VLSI lithography methods exclusively.
  • >d) sailor moon-style armies

    Well. . .damn, dude. Now I've got to read this thing!

  • >d) sailor moon-style armies

    Heh. Maybe I _will_ end up changing my name to Itami Daikoku like I always joke about. =p

    If you didn't get this, go to the MGH page on IFF [improfanfic.com]. Trust me, you'll enjoy. ^_^
  • It was an episode of The Outer Limits; I thought it was pretty cheesy myself. IIRC, the "mad scientist" (is there any other kind on that show?) built "smart" nanites that would make any changes they deemed necessary for their host's survival. Meanwhile, back in the real world, scientists are in the early stages of developing specialized, non-replicating nanites to perform specific tasks within the human body. Somehow, I can't get really scared about such far-out disaster scenarios.

    Folks, there is a long road from the molecular-scale manufacturing processes and primitive specialized nanites of today to the artificially intelligent assemblers of far-out science fiction. Nanotechnology may someday (possibly within our lifetimes, but I wouldn't count on it) become Clarke's "sufficiently advanced technology", but we still have a long way to go.

  • I can just see it now...

    Mr. Joe Bank Teller stops in the morning to grab a cup of coffee from his favorite coffee shop. What Mr. Joe Bank Teller doesn't know is that we've secretly replaced his normal coffee with Folgers Nanites. Let's see if he notices...

    (JBT enters office and logs into terminal)
    JBT: Hmm. This coffee is *good*
    Nanites: (open account for Joe Coffee Server) (Transfer $10 from each account on system to Joe Coffee Server's Account)

    Looks like Joe Bank Teller doesn't notice...

    XenoWolf
  • The first major book on nanomedicine has been
    published. It's entitled, appropriately,
    Nanomedicine and is by Rob Freitas.
    see http://www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/index.html
    where you can find chapter summaries, a sample
    chapter, and other info.

    --JoSH
  • From what I've read recently, chemical processes are a likely manufacturing route. Recent research on molecular transistors seems to suggest that this is not far off.I think 'mechanical' nano manufacturing is much less likely in the forseeable future.
  • My grandfather-in-law just had an angioplasty--at the age of 91. That was two days ago. This morning he was home feeding his chickens. Of course, at that age, a failed angioplasty would mean open heart surgery which probably would have left him quite dead.

    What's arterial plaque made of that would allow us to make swimbots that just scoot around the bloodstream scraping it off the arterial walls? It would be so nice to eat well-marbled dead cow for breakfast, lunch and dinner with no fear of heart attack or stroke.

    Of course there's still the minor problem of turning into a big fat fuck [demon.co.uk]...

    --

  • After all, there isn't a practical manmade nanotech device yet in existence.

    Take a look at http://www.arn.org/behe/mb_mm.htm for some examples of "molecular machines."

    Oh, you said "manmade." Sorry.

  • Chris Peterson of the Foresight Institute [foresight.org] did a projection a couple of years ago using Moore's Law.

    She found that computing elements should be at the sub-nanometer scale by 2015. This implies that molecular nanotechnology should be coming online about the same time, since we will be fabricating logic elements at the molecular level.

    This assumes quite a bit, but seems reasonable given the growing levels of research into nanoscale chemistry, molecular biology, and custom molecular synthesis.

    IV
  • It's a lot less threatening when you pause to consider that these things have to be injected first. You could put them on the shrapnel of a fragmentation device, but what's the point? You don't increase the range or power significantly, and you make the area containing the fragments dangerous long after the explosion. It would be a lot less dangerous than depleted uranium, since the active ingredients are organic; you could get rid of them with plenty of UV, hydrogen peroxide or just plain grocery-store bleach. This means that it would not be very useful as a way to deny an enemy the use of an area either. These packaged bits of DNA just do not have significant weapons potential.
    --
  • If these things would be able to search and destroy cancers,then could'nt some nutcase terorist
    turn this technologie in to search and destroy briancell machines ...

    PS : just imagine a beowu... never mind
    PPS : I am taking out a pattent on nano-assassins


    "THERE ARE BETTER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN ALCOHOL, ALBERT"-Death
  • I knew it!

    Ever since they came up with that stupid jingle thats supposed to be all warm and fuzzy! The music is really subliminal messages and the Folgers Nanites will slowly creep and reproduce eventually infecting all humanity!

    Then the real Mr. Echelon will have all the power!

  • cnet had an interesting report on "how nanotechnology will change the world", here is the address:
    http://home.cnet.com/specialreports/0-6014-7-818 759.html?2011

    Science fiction has once again entered the realm of practicality...and humans have one more way of destroying themselves or helping themselves immensely.
  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Friday January 07, 2000 @07:33AM (#1394725) Journal
    "Impovershed."

    Today's poor enjoy antibiotics and vaccines which are rather inexpensive commodity items. Sixty years ago antibiotics did not exist, and for some time after that they were quite expensive. They came down. Smallpox vaccine got so cheap the disease is now extinct in the wild, and polio is not far from the same fate.

    The "gap" may "grow" in absolute terms as technology moves faster and faster, but in terms of years it will probably stay about the same. Today's hyper-expensive breakthrough is tomorrow's best standard of care, and in 20 years it is available in clinics in Africa. The march of progress tends to turn anything useful into a commodity. Don't worry too much about determining who gets what. People turn their efforts away from areas which are political footballs, and if you spend a lot of political capital hammering the outfits which bring these advances to market about their contributions to "social injustices" you will just have fewer advances to argue about.
    --

  • True; there are a wide variety of defenses for combatting such biological agents. They're basically the same concept as other biological weapons, namely airborne microscopic weapons. It would be difficult to make them a successful military option, but they would be perfect for terrorism, which doesn't care who is the target. Besides, who wants to go around all the time with UV lamps everywhere, or spray bottles of bleach? Not me. I suppose everyone could be vaccinated with 'defensive' nanites, designed to seek and destroy only other invading nanites....interesting.

    Remember, nobody gets injected with anything for an anthrax or botulism bio warfare attack...
  • So, if these little suckers can "avoid triggering an immune response" wouldn't they be put to an evil use?

    Sounds to me like a great way to deliver some nasty payload to kill someone.


    Just a thought....
    Morgewan

  • The NBC (Nuclear/Biological/Chemical) threat is big concern of the modern military. They have entire job fields designed around protecting from and implement these "terrors". We can barely stop what we have now in our arsnel, let alone anyone elses. Imagine the impack of Nanotech to this list. The ONLY way around something like this is a solder in a completely sealed system. What I am afraid of is when they test a "technology" (i.e. weapon) like this. You target it to something in an enviroment (like man) but the enviroment is ALWAYS effected. How would you like these little buggers getting into the ground water, insuniating themselves into the local ecosystem, or getting into the ocean. I like the advances of technology we are making as a species. However, only a few have the forsight to see what can happen if something goes awry. Unfortunately so many others are out for gain (public aclaim, money, power, etc) that the forseeing few are all shutup or pushed aside. Our modern solution to any technology issue has always been if there is a problem we should be able to fix it in the future. Example, medical waste, nuclear waste, the aging chemical stockpile, and a host of superfund sites. I hope nanites do not go down the same road, with there potential we may be looking at an forseeable end instead of a bright beginning.
  • Nah, not replaced, supplemented. We're talking about technology working inside the cells. It would be very easy and much more useful to load them into the white blood cells themselves and let the body's already functioning method of getting white blood cells to the site do the delivery. Once on site, point the "big guns" out the "car windows" and waste 'em.
  • Another excellent book that covers the topic of nanotechnologies impact on society is Diamond Age, by Neil Stephensen. The point of the book is covering another topic, but he also goes in depth on the issue of nanotechnology, and how the system could be easily abused.

    Plus, as with any Stephensen book, reading it is a great ride.
  • It's hard to evaluate all the possibilities at this point, but take the silicon-encapsulated cells and the dendrite-thingy packaged DNA as examples. The cells in their Si hard cases can't multiply, so they're useless for spreading a plague. They'd just wash or brush off skin and be swept out of the eyes, nose and lungs along with dust. The DNA might have a better chance of getting somewhere, but it's bare; its chances of getting anywhere through the air without being damaged by oxygen appear small.

    Even if either of them could be engineered to kill people, they would only hit those who got it directly; they could not create a plague. Not much of a terror weapon as these things go.
    --

  • You're missing his/her point. What TauZero was saying is that since you have to inject the damn things anyway, why bother with nano? If you have the ability to inject something into the target/victim/enemy, why not just inject poison and save the extra cash? Nano-capsules won't be cheap, potassium cyanide is.

    Note too that the hard part is injecting the stuff, and nobody is saying how that is going to be accomplished.

    Jon
  • I'm usually one of the first to jump on the technology bandwagon, but stuff like this still scares me. Anyone who thinks we have a good understanding of how the human body works is putting a lot of faith into medical experts. These are the same people who still can't tell me why my knees hurt

    I'm not saying it won't work -- just that it'll take me a long time before I trust some doctor to go mucking up my DNA.

    Remember, they call it "practicing medicine" for a reason :)

    --Mid

  • Absolutely. If you want more parity, bless the speed at which scientists come up with better, and necessarily cheaper, ways of doing things. If you try to slow them down, then that's all you'll succeed in doing. You will never change the fact that the rich will be able to buy more for themselves than the poor.
  • This reminds me of Nancy Kress's "cell cleaner" in her Beggars in Spain series. The cell cleaner also allowed people to "eat" just by going naked - their skin was changed to allow photosynthesis and the absorbtion of nutrients from mud.
  • It would be so nice to eat well-marbled dead cow for breakfast, lunch and dinner with no fear of heart attack or stroke.
    Vegan and animal rights advocate that I am, I hope that given the tech level to create artery-scouring nanobots we'd put an end to slaughtering sentient creatures for pleasure and that you'd be eating tank-grown cloned meat instead.
  • Robert Freitas has written the (afaik) world's first technical book on Nanomedicine, described here [foresight.org] and purchasable at Amazon [amazon.com] or the publisher [nanomedicine.com]. This book is a big advance in the art, comparable to Drexler's Nanosystems [foresight.org]. Freitas is an extremely diligent author, treating every imaginable detail of the designs he proposes.

    A gentler intro to nanomedicine is available here [foresight.org], in an earlier book.

    One of the interesting ideas from Freitas's book is the respirocyte [foresight.org], an artificial red blood cell with a much higher oxygen-carrying capacity than the biological version. A person with respirocytes in his bloodstream could sit on the bottom of a swimming pool for nearly four hours.

  • > Once on site, point the "big guns" out the "car windows" and waste 'em.

    I guess this is the new `medical' term. ;) A drive by shooting on the celular scale? What happens when you have `gangs' of nanites patrolling your body, marking territory and raising hell? Would you have to take drugs just to satisfy their demands and justify their protection of your body?

    A very funny analogy I must say.


    Bad Mojo
  • I thought the section about Desai's work with repairing neurotransmitters in the brain was particularly interesting. It seems like it might be possible one day to inject nanites into the brain that travel around the neuropathways, analyse and report back what they find. In other words, they gradually map the entire contents of a brain - essentially recording a person's mind in it's current state. The only problem then is understanding what the data means in order to truly read the person's mind. Could it then be transplanted somewhere else to give the individual a new life? Could it be added to an AI's resevoir of knowledge? Could it be part of an historical archive of civilization?
  • by Otter (3800) on Friday January 07, 2000 @08:30AM (#1394743) Journal
    I've been unsuccessfully trying to find this link [techreview.com] every time you've posted a nanotech story. In this MIT Tech Review nanotach special issue, several articles discuss how, while nanotech research is proceeding well, virtually every expert working in the field feels that Eric Drexler-type nanoassembly is impossible. Basically, the Drexler mentality has been popular among CS people who can think of greta ways to use that technology if it existed but hasn't caught on among the people who actually have to deal with all the weird forces at nanoscales.

    Unfortunately it's not available online but you might want to see if you can find a hard copy.
  • John Varley's "Steel Beach" discusses nanotechnology on the effect of a human society in detail. It also goes a lot futher in discussing human gender and sexuality.

    (Be warned, the main character does some gender switching, and tries to find a meaning in his life, also sex is dicussed a lot).

    Another main character of the book is the CC (central computer), which helps humans run their daily lives, and is in some way part of the goverment. Incidently, the earth has been taken over by aliens, and humans now live on the moon, and some of the other planets.

    It's an interesting book, and if you're willing to read it, I'd suggest you read it. The book does cover some interesting issues that may crop up in the future, and the paperback is still in print according to amazon.com
  • Yeah, I went down the road known as the bloodstream and saw that the cells tended to congregate in certain sections and that this drew the attention of the local patrols. Trouble is, the bad guys get organized and go underground and we don't want to try to reinvent ways to compromise their hiding places.
  • Mr. Slippery said: Vegan and animal rights advocate that I am, I hope that given the tech level to create artery-scouring nanobots we'd put an end to slaughtering sentient creatures for pleasure and that you'd be eating tank-grown cloned meat instead.

    Just because it's grown in a tank doesn't make it any less of an animal. You're still killing it. Just like you kill a tree when you buy a wood chair.

    Don't get me wrong - I've cut down more forests than I care to remember and grew up on tree farms and so saw where the meat you eat comes from. And I still eat some meat.

    I think the thing would be to try to grow food that was less expensive to the environment, personally. And maybe have the nanobots (or genetic viral alterations) make it so that a good soy burger tasted (in our brains) as good as a free-range cow burger.
  • Great. So now we'll not only encourage stupid people to have more kids than smart people, we'll encourage people with bad genes to live longer and pass them on.

    And if those resulting humans ever colonize another planet and their tech fails them, they'll die in large numbers, being unsuited for survival.

    Why don't you just rip out the teeth and bones and let us float in space habitats with cartilage only, and hard wire the pleasure centers so we never want to think hard thoughts or succeed at anything worthwhile? Just as effective - and just as useless.
  • So what's to stop hackers from reprogramming the nanotechs to replicate? And turn everyone's hair purple?

  • I love to think that nanites are possible, but it still bothers me that what power source they will use.

    I know that we are going through another leap in space, and speed on computers, and the modeling that is possible allows us to manipulate on the genetic level. Once we get the Genes down, we should be able to make a virus to make changes, or fixes, and also have it die off after the change is in place. The projections that are being shown for this are to be in the 10 year planning phase.

    For more ideas on this and how it is being used, you can check into any Pharmaceutical co, and what they are doing with that R&D. Not many are doing anything with Nanites because they are projected to be 50 or more years out.

    But one of the 'Possible' ways to do manipulation and create the devices is to use an 'Electron Beam Microcope' and move around the atoms, on an atom, by atom basis. Slow, but it would work.



  • It's not so much the engineers and scientists shoving technology in our faces as it is the business-critters who look to profit from shoving the technology in our faces.
  • I am starting a new company! I think I will call it NanoOne . Yep, I am going to file for IPO and announce that I am planning on releasing my own NanoOne NanoLinux distribution. On top of that, it will use NanoApache to serve my eNanoCommerce site in which people can access it via our new NanoPalm which is a wireless NanoPDA that uses NanoLinux as well!
    Please give me $$ now!

    Thanks for the support!

    Dman33
    President and CEO
    NanoOne Corp.

    (I never guessed getting rich was this easy!)

  • The book was interesting, but more than the nanite technology was interesting in this book - the 'Teacher/book' that was invented was more of what the story line was about.

    And the story missed one important fact about 'energy of production' - to move that many molecules would require a significant amount of energy. Something that all books on nanites seem to ignore.

    The other thing that they ignore, is that we have 'Billions' of cells to make up our brain - and the nanites are created with intelligence - kind of like 'D-day 4th of July' when we could take a laptop, and make it manipulate the computer of the alien ship - Well not exactly, since all of the computer technology that we have is from the UFO that crashed, and they leaked the technology to the rest of mankind - but the OS was different - so the rest does apply. Ignore the reality of the situation.

    Not to mention that they haven't even thought out how 'chaos' will fit into the picture. Granted, we are getting closer to the holistic view of how the universe functions. But we are still a LONG way off.

    And besides - I haven't taken the time to write the program (in forth of course) to do the simulation of the chaos, that is holisticaly generating conciousness via a four vector resonance of the electrical propagation in the brain.



  • Why not just spray a cloud of nanites that disassemble organic tissue?

    That would be a more frightening weapon.
  • Wasn't there someone who used an Electron Beam Microscope to write their company logo in 'Gold atoms' on the surface. Just take and move it up one level, and get a program that takes that ability, and move them around to form into whatever molicule that you want. Yes, 'Photo' - has limitations. So does your fingers, that is why we use 'mechanical' manipulators to do what we do. And just like the Zip-Drive technology, it takes someone with a different point of view to see how to use the same devices, and increase the density of storage on the same device. Is it that we have better hard drives now, or is it that they are using the concepts first thougth out by Iomega? And the limits of technology, are the limits of the mind of man - With the correct frequencies, you can change the 'random' orientation of molecules to harmonicly amplify the random properties of an atom - for instance the crystaline nature of IRON (FE) is such that when properly alighned in the molecular form, it creates what is known as a 'Magnetic Field'. So in one sense the wavelength of radiation is a limit - and in another sense, it is the frozen state of energy that we see as atoms that makes us believe that the energy wavefronts in the electromagnetic spectrum are the only energies out there... Maybe if we 'muse' and don't dismiss what is called 'STUPID' - 'IMPOSSIBLE' ideas we will finaly find real truths. Or is this one of those situations that the Write Brothers encountered when they flew over the NJ turnpike. Observers said it must be a trick - and it wasn't until a year(?) later that they finally were credited with the impossible. How many times have we seen in the past that man has said that you should not believe a thing - and who is this crazy man 'Galileo' who thinks that the earth revolves around the sun. We should stop wrong thinking because it is wrong. I have so many things that 'burst' into my mind - like the SuperTwist LCD. The Japaniese threw the technology out, and it was a couple of guys in the US who looked at it from a different view point and changed a couple of things to make it work. True, it wouldn't work for the normal way, but just like a philips head vs a slotted head screw, you have to see it differently, and once that is done and the correct question asked - the answer is obivous. IMHO But then again, I might just be blowing off steam. (grin)

  • Wasn't there someone who used an Electron Beam Microscope to write their company logo in 'Gold atoms' on the surface.

    Just take and move it up one level, and get a program that takes that ability, and move them around to form into whatever molicule that you want.

    Yes, 'Photo' - has limitations. So does your fingers, that is why we use 'mechanical' manipulators to do what we do. And just like the Zip-Drive technology, it takes someone with a different point of view to see how to use the same devices, and increase the density of storage on the same device. Is it that we have better hard drives now, or is it that they are using the concepts first thougth out by Iomega?

    And the limits of technology, are the limits of the mind of man - With the correct frequencies, you can change the 'random' orientation of molecules to harmonicly amplify the random properties of an atom - for instance the crystaline nature of IRON (FE) is such that when properly alighned in the molecular form, it creates what is known as a 'Magnetic Field'.

    So in one sense the wavelength of radiation is a limit - and in another sense, it is the frozen state of energy that we see as atoms that makes us believe that the energy wavefronts in the electromagnetic spectrum are the only energies out there... Maybe if we 'muse' and don't dismiss what is called 'STUPID' - 'IMPOSSIBLE' ideas we will finaly find real truths.

    Or is this one of those situations that the Write Brothers encountered when they flew over the NJ turnpike. Observers said it must be a trick - and it wasn't until a year(?) later that they finally were credited with the impossible.

    How many times have we seen in the past that man has said that you should not believe a thing - and who is this crazy man 'Galileo' who thinks that the earth revolves around the sun. We should stop wrong thinking because it is wrong.

    I have so many things that 'burst' into my mind - like the SuperTwist LCD. The Japaniese threw the technology out, and it was a couple of guys in the US who looked at it from a different view point and changed a couple of things to make it work. True, it wouldn't work for the normal way, but just like a philips head vs a slotted head screw, you have to see it differently, and once that is done and the correct question asked - the answer is obivous.

    IMHO

    But then again, I might just be blowing off steam.

    (grin)





  • More likely what will happen in these cases is that we will finally figure out how to take the correct human cells, and bring them up to a level where they can be injected into the organ with the problem, and regenerate it.

    The experiments on the aborted fetus's show that this is a viable way to do it - since they have already done studies on adults and injecting the cells from the fetus - seems to be no rejection. Kind of like a in some of the old SF books that talk about Rejuviation. Instead of having a clone waiting the the side lines, you would have a shot every so many years, and get the cells reset to a younger age.

    So you are correct in that it is more likely that they will come up with a 'clone' first - and the clone may be just cells injected in at the correct point into your wife. Bang! Cured, by the correct genetic code.

    The scary part is 'WHO' will decide what is correct.

  • I think this technology is amazing, but like many other medical technologies that are available, I fear it will lead to a larger gap between rich and poor.

    The gap really doesn't matter, the living conditions of the poor are what matter. And at least in this country, technology has generally improved standards of living.

    I think that's why, referencing another story, Steve Wozniak has a generally optimistic view of things. Despite fits and starts, monopolies and EULAs, greed and envy, the computer community makes dramatically better and nicer-to-use machines now than it did in the past, and the benefits of those are going to a large percentage of the population.
  • Greg Bear, who no doubt lots of us know and love, wrote SLANT, which introduces itself by showing us a world of nano-medecine gone wrong. An entire culture based on medical nano, that crashes (no OT M$ Bashing, purleez).

    It also discusses Nano used for weoponry... this is the scary part. It uses any available bits around it to manufacture big things that blow up and are very intelligent, etc. etc. You're right. It's scary.

    Or Virtuosity, there was an interesting weapon made with nano and any available glass. And intelligence, but that's a whole other ball game.

    It's been thought of before, and no doubt the Defense lads will swallow it up before it becomes mainstream, like they've done with numerous other technologies, and will do with many more.
  • I agree! - Like the fact that you can cool a house using only 100 watts and get 6000 BTU's of cooling. Normally it requires 1800 watts.

    It just takes someone to see the problem in a different light.

    Everyone see's it as a 'change of state' instead of 'movement of energy'. It takes more energy to change the state of a molecule than to move the energy around on the molecular level.

    And once you can move the heat around efficiently, you can use a minimal amount of energy to extract the heat from the atmosphere, and use that to effect a change in state at the molecular level, and use the differential of the two as mechanical energy.

    Blather, blather, blather

    And everyone knows that Keely is a fake!

    - The conceptual leap, is an example of the PHD that was 'lazy' and working as a test-tube-tech. He went to the vacation in Yellowstone, and on the way he thought of how to take a standard piece of DNA and make it so he could get only the part he wanted, but he was missing how to do it fast. When he got to Yellowstone, he watched the 'HOT springs', and found out about the bacteria that live there and multiply very rapidly. He put the two together, and today this is what is used for Genetic mapping and manipulation. They tossed all of the 'petre' dishes because of this one man. - Was an amazing example of 'Sincronicity' to boot.

    But in general, anyone focusing on any task will progress in that direction. Similar to the fact that 'VERY LITTLE' Money has been put into Solar energy. If it was - we would have much higher amount of solar being used today


    OK, I'll stop rambling


  • Wasn't the son of the 'Nanite-Robots' infected with an interface that allowed him to control the rest of the robot population?

    If I recall correctly, it was rather anoying to him.

    And the 'nanite-robots' were 'HUMAN-size' just composed of nanites - or was that the wife who created the nanite version... And she left the single robot on the planet - became a wolf-like robot because the dominant race (at first glance) was some primitive wolves.


  • For Unix with a 'SHOTGUN'?

    - hmmmm.... and if the aliens that are watching us are are already using the macroscopic machine to monitor the human race (their version of tagging a dumb beast) then we could have a small war going on inside us.

  • I've been following nanotech for years, and written several lengthy reports on it. So I can say: It ain't gonna happen in 20 years, and just barely 50. So security worries are a while off, and medical applications, well, there a long long way off.

    Why did the nanobot cross the road?????

    Cuz the wind blew it aside.....

  • it is called e-boli(sp) or more accurately 'hemoragic fever'


    And there was also (name is not recalled) that was used on an island after world war two, and the island to this day, still does not have an ounce of anything organic on it. Nasty stuff - Maybe that is why I don't recall, I don't want to remember about it and push it from my mind...


  • Or you could infect one person with a genetically coded attack virus that would only attack 'One person' - Which episode of STNG was that in?

    Been there, done that - and variations on it including being turned into stone.

    So it is a wonder that there hasn't been anyone suggesting that it could be used to effect a change of young teenage girls into stone. This is the perfect place to do it.

    Or Maybe you want a wife that looks like Maralyn Monroe? Then of course what you would do is do the modeling, and inject her - and watch the change. Opps, you stuck yourself by mistake - or was it a mistake. Maybe the Godess was punishing you....



  • I was interested in the article's comments about using nanotechnology because our immune systems wouldn't recognize them.

    If the ability to create these things becomes widespread, it won't be long before some crazy person comes up with something designed to kill people indiscriminately (or perhaps discriminately). (This kind of reminds me of the nano-heart-attack episode from X-files).

    When that happens, not having your immune system respond will be a BIG disadvantage. I suspect that we will have to design a "nano"-immune system to fend off nano-attacks, in which case the "no immune system reaction" advantage is no longer there.

    I guess you're not totally back where you started from, since you should be able to program the nano-immune system to recognize "friendly" agents. (Of course, then you have the whole "protect the key" problem - somebody steals your private key, then you become a walking incubator for their private nanotech experiments!)
  • Wasn't there someone who used an Electron Beam Microscope to write their company logo in Gold atoms

    IBM, and not quite. Her e's the scoop [lbl.gov], and note that STMs are very big, very finicky, very energy-intensive machines.

    In 1989 two IBM researchers penned their employer's acronym by manipulating 35 xenon atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope-a device that dragged the atoms across a nickel surface. The atoms moved because of chemical bonding interactions that occurred when the microscope's tungsten tip came to within a tenth of a nanometer or so of each atom. Jones notes the difficulties involved: The IBM logo was created in an extremely high vacuum at the supercooled temperature of liquid helium using inert xenon atoms. Outside this rarefied environment, the world becomes much less stable. "Single atoms of more structurally useful elements at or near room temperature are amazingly mobile and reactive," Jones writes. "They will combine instantly with ambient air, water, each other, the fluid supporting the assemblers, or the assemblers themselves."
    In short, atomic manipulation ain't anywhere near ready for prime time.
  • I was wondering what that was all about...
    --

    --
  • (We're going off-topic, so I'll say no more of this thread - e-mail me for further discussion if you want.)

    Just because it's grown in a tank doesn't make it any less of an animal.
    But a tissue sample does not an animal make. I think it's pretty clear that "an animal" refers to a complete organism, while "animal tissue" is a different thing.
    You're still killing it. Just like you kill a tree when you buy a wood chair.
    True. But what's interesting in this ethical question is not life (which is just a chemical process, albeit a very interesting one), but the termination of a consciousness (or, depending on your terms, an experiencer, a subjectivity, a subject-of-a-life, sentience, whatever) which may be present in a living brain - or (someday) in a computer, or in an extraterristrial critter based on a chemistry so different we wouldn't call it living.
  • Just because it's grown in a tank doesn't make it any less of an animal. You're still killing it.

    in response to:

    I hope that... we'd put an end to slaughtering sentient creatures...

    I think the important distinction from a moral standpoint is sentient. Animals suffer because they have brains and nervous systems. If we learn to grow bovine muscles in a tank with no nerves connected, can they really be said to suffer? I can't see how, unless you're willing to consider the "suffering" of individual cells.

  • How do bacteria survive with what are essentially little nano machines for organs?

    At the tiniest scales, life is all about shuffling atoms around, generally according to a pattern encoded in DNA molecules. That's already sort of a nano machine already existing in nature.

  • It's good to see that they're not letting the first failure stop them

    Umm...that was a gene therapy trial, using adenovirus to transfect cells with new genes. The kid probably died because it still contained enough "wild" virii to give him a nasty infection.

    It had nothing at all to do with nanotech, except that they're both relatively new fields -- the kind that most people only know about from poorly written Star Trek episodes.

  • I'm wondering whether one of the "big" results of nanotechnology will be "mechanical" memories - large scale memory arrays consisting of switches whose position mechanically indicate one or zero (or if you want to get funky, larger numbers of discrete positions).

    Before non-nano-techers dismiss this as too slow, at the scale of single-molecules, people have already made gears rotating at 100Ghz - if molecular "switches" can change their positions with an equivalent latency, I think we can agree that they would satisfy our memory bandwidth requirements for the near future. And they would be non-volatile, and probably pretty tough (does anybody have any feelings as to whether they would be considered rad-hard?)

    Of course, the REALLY hard bit is the addressing & data transfers.
  • How do bacteria survive with what are essentially little nano machines for organs?

    That's a good point...off the top of my head I'd say this: Those "machines" are made of several protein subunits, each with ~50 to several hundred amino acids. Each amino acid is (give or take a few) 12 to 20 atoms. So, that kind of biochemistry is on a much larger scale than Diamond Age-like nanites.
  • Perhaps the most likely early application would be for advanced synthesis of pharmaceuticals and drugs. You can mechanically make the desired molecules by plugging precursor atoms together. You can do that in a controlled environment (rather than the messy human body) and simply harvest the results. This sort of chemical mechanosynthesis is likely to make production of many substances that are currently difficult or impossible to synthesize possible. Also, in reverse, you could disassemble complex and poorly understood molecules, thus learning their structure and composition more precisely than is possible with scanning tunneling microscopes, atomic force microscopes, or crystallography. The impact of this technology would be immense itself, and would probably attract sufficient investment capital to achieve the advances necessary for those ubiquitous artery-scraping, marbled-beef-consumption-enabling medical nanorobots.
  • As I read quite a bit of nanotech literature academic and in industrial research labs, I find your assertions that experts think macroassembly is impossible quite incredible. If you believe it is impossible then give an argument showing that it is. Drexler and crew have answered several possible arguments quite handily. If you have or no of others not answered then please bring them forward.
  • Who the heck cares if it leads to a short-term gap if it improves the long term health and well-being of all human beings? The new is almost always of necessity the scarce and the expensive as long as it is new. So only those with more resources and wealth in the beginning can access it. So what? There is nothing inherently wrong with this. No one owes anyone equal results and goodies across the board.

    Open public discousrce among non-scientists and engineers who don't even understand the technology they would dare to dominate? No thank you.

    I hope the hell that technology is moving at a faster pace than our politics and societies at this point. Because it is only technology that will allow us to think and understand enough and more quickly in order to deal more wisely with our world. Or have you not noticed that the standard human brain/mind is woefully poor at many desperately needed aspects of reasoning much less wisdom?

    To have the nearly illiterate masses control our future at the hands of professional manipulators of mass opinion is a nightmare I will fight with everything I have. That will kill our future and all of us.
  • Uh. I saw the same flick (Outer Limits). The scientist did not give his friend the nannites. His friend swiped them and injected himself.

    There are ways to follow every movement of anyone you like already. Can't raise a decent scare of nannites with that one.


  • Long before we develop the technology that far out a lot of us will most likely decide bodies are only useful some of the time and will configure a body to our needs of the moment when we actually need one (or several for that matter). There is no reason all or even most of those bodies should look like the ones we evolved with. That model of body is only useful in a range of conditions and for a range of tasks not far removed from our evolutionary environment.

    It is actually vitally important to think about where the technology can take us before it is already here. What nanotech can do has heavy duty implications for our entire socio-economic structure and our psychology, even for our very identity as a species. I think we would be extremely wise to think of how we will evolve to use the technology with what wisdom we are capable of. The world that is coming will require new habitual ways of looking at things, new ways of interacting, new systems of ethics across all aspects of interaction. It is not too early to start thinking about this stuff and working toward some of the likely necessary changes.
  • Actually, I'm way ahead of you. I want to start a new California spiritual movement called the Church of the Holy Nannite. The money collected from the congregation will go into funding hi-tech projects and particularly nano-tech with the profits plowed back into the congregation and the church. The message is that the world can be transformed to heaven on earth if we do both the technological and personal/interpersonal work necessary to make it so. With the proper amount of inspiration, showpersonship, hype and promotion I think it has a great chance of success.

    Yes, I'm kidding - at the moment. Sometimes it feels like a real good idea. After all humans seem to have these spiritual propensities that need to be channeled in a way that is actually good for us instead of fighting against all reason and real world advancement.
  • The article mentions the idea of Ferrari to swindle the immune system with using nano pore membranes that have holes too small for antibodies. But what about viruses? What is their size? Do viruses exist that are smaller than the antibodies and which may be able to pass the membranes? What happens if they attack the "shielded" cells inside the capsule? IIRC those cells would be changed by the viruses to produce more viruses. Fine for the virus, because the altered cells are safe from the antibodies. Thus those cells change from being a help for the body to being a danger!

    Or did I miss something fundamental? (Like "viruses are always bigger than antibodies". I just don't know.)
  • There are two common themes we are seeing: hackers and duplication. Hackers come into the picture because each nanite will be following a program. Duplication comes into the picture in the form of a computer virus. Now, unlike what our friendly virus maker of today, if we are to create nanites we must build in that off switch mentioned above. The major reason for this is that it is still much more efficient and cheaper to build a nanite that can reproduce itself than it is to manufacture them individually. If you create one, then that one creates another one and so on. But because they are programmed to make them out of "stuff" the reproduction could go on until everything, even human flesh, is now a nanite. Pretty scarey! Maybe there is a way to program them to use only certain "stuff" to reproduce, and thus limit how may can be created. Say they are allowed to reproduce themselves using water, but only until they run out of water. Once they run out, they are programed to stop reproducing. Then you could drop one of these into a glass of water and they would reproduce until they have consumed all of the water. What scares me about the whole process is that if there is a "glitch" in the program and they can't be turned off. They they reproduce until everything is consumed. Yikes!

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