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Biotech Science

Walking Molecule Now Carries Packages 108

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the delivery-in-20-minutes-or-it's-free dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Chemists from the University of California at Riverside designed two years ago a molecule which could move straight on a flat surface — a nano-walker if you wish. Now, they've found a way to force this walking molecule to carry packages. The nano-worker can now carry two CO2 molecules. And like yourself when you carry two heavy bags, this nano-worker is slower when it carries other molecules. The researchers think their discovery will lead to reliable ways of carrying molecules, an equivalent of the conveyor belts in today's factories."
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Walking Molecule Now Carries Packages

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just let me know when they can carry me home from the bar- then it'll mean something to me.
  • Energy Source? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eluusive (642298) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:15PM (#17714672)
    What powers this thing?
    • Re:Energy Source? (Score:5, Informative)

      by William_Lee (834197) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:17PM (#17714708)
      What powers this thing?

      From a previous article on the walker:

      "Activated by heat or the nudge of a scanning tunneling microscope tip, DTA will pull up one foot, put down the other, and thus walk in a straight line across a flat surface. The planted foot not only supplies support but also keeps the body of the molecule from veering or stumbling off course."
      • by garyrich (30652) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:56PM (#17715126) Homepage Journal
        What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs
        and makes a slinkity sound?
        A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing!
        Everyone knows it's Slinky.
        It's Slinky, it's Slinky,
        it's fun, it's a wonderful toy.
        It's Slinky, it's Slinky, it's fun,
        It's a wonderful toy.
        It's fun for a girl or a boy.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dontbgay (682790)
          Totally OT, but it's funny that I know the Log Song from Ren and Stimpy.. and I don't know the words to the Slinky commercial.
    • Kitten hearts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ThePopeLayton (868042)
      Probably ATP, which powers about 90% of the biochemical energy dependent reactions.
      Some reactions require GTP, CTP, or UTP. These other nucleotide tri-phosphates are used much less and only for very specific functions, so it could be one of these but I would bet against them. Other possible sources of energy are: concentration gradients, membrane potentials, pH gradients, etc... There are many many different sources of energy in the biochemical world, however for most biological reactions ATP is the ene
    • by sconeu (64226)
      Well, it's not ants. The Anteaters are UC Irvine [uci.edu].
      • by rthille (8526)

        Yeah, if the molecule was developed at UCI, it would make the Zot! sound :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:15PM (#17714676)
    They'll unionize & all your research will be useless and futile against their nano-unions.
    • I hope those suckers enjoy living on the nano-reservations! We're not gonna honor those bogus nano-treaties.
    • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:24PM (#17714804)

      >They'll unionize & all your research will be useless and futile against their nano-unions.

      Gives new meaning to the phrase, "All your base (pairs) are belong to us."
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by frieza79 (947618)
      I'm sure if that happens, we can just use Indian or Chinese molecules.
      I bet they would be happy to do it, and they wont even slow down!
    • by eclectro (227083)
      More importantly, how do we stop them at the borders and check their bags?
    • ...for now.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Since these molecules actually do something, it seems unlikely they'll form a union.

    • by pikapp159 (853735)
      "the nano-worker can now carry two CO2 molecules"

      Our new solution to global warming: an army of nano-workers carrying off all the CO2 greenhouse gas molecules.

      Hooray... Once they are finish, maybe we can stop threatening people that have differing views to extent of man's contribution to climate change.
    • by kerrbear (163235)

      all your research will be useless and futile against their nano-unions

      Molocules can't unionize, they're just dumb molocules. However, the researches will have to deal with the legal dept. of the SPCM* after having forced them to do back-breaking labor.

      *It'll come to you

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:17PM (#17714710)
    Think of the organized crime opportunities! Yeah stuff in the warehouse does really just walk off.
    Though if walkers get a collective consciousness it would self-organized crime.
  • Has the molecule indicated he wants to form a union?
  • by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:22PM (#17714790) Homepage Journal
    "Cutbacks have forced us to introduce the Imperial Nanowalker"
  • by CODiNE (27417) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:31PM (#17714882) Homepage
    Teaching them to drive nano-trucks and get signatures on a clip-board.
  • by Zeek40 (1017978) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:33PM (#17714904)
    So what's the big deal? I can carry a lot more than two C02 molecules around and make turns and my parents are still kicking themselves for creating me, why should these scientists be proud of their inferior creation?
    • Inferior creation? Do you do what your creators ask? Moving two molecules of C02 isn't much but at least the little guy is obedient.
    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:22PM (#17715466)
      "So what's the big deal? I can carry a lot more than two C02 molecules around and make turns and my parents are still kicking themselves for creating me, why should these scientists be proud of their inferior creation?"

      Apparently, this molecule moved out of the basement some time ago.
  • Lemmings (Score:3, Funny)

    by AutopsyReport (856852) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:34PM (#17714922)
    For the non-scientific among us, think Lemmings, only less suicidal.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...can take millions of years to be there on time and weighs less then a very small molecule, let University of California at Riverside work for you.
  • a nano-walker if you wish.

    I don't. Now what?
  • by shrike99 (100287) on Monday January 22, 2007 @04:37PM (#17714956) Homepage
    "What did the first nano-walker water molecule say to the second nano-walker water molecule who'd just tripped while carrying his load of CO2?" "Up and ATOM Mister!". (sorry. been a long day)
    • Sorry, all I could think of after that joke was this

      Acting coach: Up and atom!
      Rainier Wolfcastle: (in heavy German accent) Up and at them!
      Acting coach: Up and atom!
      Wolfcastle: Up and at them!
      Acting coach: Up and atom!
      Wolfcastle: Up and at them!
      Acting coach: *Sigh.* Better.
    • <reiner>Up and AT THEM!</reiner>
  • New tag (Score:2, Informative)

    I've started a new tag, just for this article: piquepaille. The idea is to warn everybody that it's Just Another Slashvertizement.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shawn(at)fsu (447153)
      Actually if you would have taken the time to mouseover the link you would have seen that it didn't go to his blog or column, it went to the university's website. Not that I'm a huge Roland fan, but your statement is just flat out wrong.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      Well, I do happen to be a Rolland fan. Someone please mod the parent off-topic.

      Not only have I found Rolland Piquepaille's submissions over the years to be consistently interesting and informative, but he has long since dropped the one practice that anybody could gripe about with any legitimacy, the links to his own summaries of the articles.

      What could anybody possibly find to criticize in any of his recent submissions?
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        His name is permanently sullied by his ad-whoring. I no longer trust any of his links. I don't think this is unreasonable.

        Once you sell your good name, you cannot buy it back.

      • I agree with a lot of what you said. The summaries are great. I hate reading an article summary and the ghoing to teh actual article and teh first paragraph is word for word what I just read. So yeah I do like Roland's submissions on taht point, plus it's not something that you just saw yesterday on CNN.com
  • Those lazy chemists.. they can't be bothered to move a molecule. -_-
  • Cue the Powerhouse music [wikipedia.org], as thousands of nano-walkers move in unison...
  • So, what is the nano-walker carrying the two molecules in?

    A nano-bag? Was is packed by a nano-bagger? At a nano-market?

  • Well, super, it can carry CO2. How soon can they train it to carry something really uselful like caffeine? And will injesting caffeine-laden walkers help speed the sweet goodness faster to my decaying brain?
  • by chris_eineke (634570) on Monday January 22, 2007 @05:10PM (#17715324) Homepage Journal
    should read Nanosystems by K. Eric Drexler [e-drexler.com]. Roughly speaking, Drexler is the father of nanomanufacturing. I bought it on a whim when I read about him in the Diamond Age [nealstephenson.com] by Neal Stephenson [wikipedia.org] (of Cryptonomicon [nealstephenson.com], Baroque Cycle [nealstephenson.com], In the the Beginning was the Command Line [nealstephenson.com], and Snow Crash [nealstephenson.com] fame). Interesting times ahead.
    • the following should be of interest to you:

      SCI FI Channel unveiled a new slate of programs in development, which includes shows from executive producers George Clooney, Darren Star and Mark Burnett. SCI FI made the announcement Jan. 12 at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

      Diamond Age, based on Neal Stephenson's best-selling novel The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, is a six-hour miniseries from Clooney and fellow executive producer Grant Heslov of

  • Our nano-mule overlords are welcome to carry you!
    • by splutty (43475)
      Ow man! I've wasted so much time on that, programming it for tons of different platforms, trying to get useful creations, etc :) It's always been one of the more inspiring bits of programming for me, to be able to make things like this with just the simplest ruleset.
  • All Hail... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    our nano size underlords. May we construct statues in their name. I see them know posters on every corner: Nano Brother is Watching You!
  • Now, they've found a way to force this walking molecule to carry packages. The nano-worker can now carry two CO2 molecules.

    When your Carbon Dioxide absolutely, positively has to be there over night.

  • And like yourself when you carry two heavy bags, this nano-worker is slower when it carries other molecules.
    WHY should it be slower? You walk slower cause gravity makes the bags heavy - but on that lengthscale, gravity doesn't matter! Does anybody know that?
  • THEY TOOK OUR JOBS! [wikipedia.org]
  • ...a tiny motorcycle, that he can ride down these tiny paths, and

    Oh wait. Sorry. My other tab's on Linerider.

  • How heavy of a load? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Monday January 22, 2007 @06:23PM (#17716322)
    So, how many times its own atomic weight can one of these things carry? Basically, how heavy of a load can it take without breaking the chemical bonds in the molecule's legs? And can you spread the load across several of them?

    If you sprayed a bunch of them on the underside of a paperweight (in a way that assured uniform orientation), could it then walk off by itself?

    What is their horsepower equivalent?
  • ... for those banana molecules!!!
  • I've be trying to become morbidly obese, but this is hard work. If I didn't need to move any of my molecules, that would probably be a big help.
  • How adorable! I can just imagine the little thing walking about carrying its little loads.
    I want one!!!
  • Someone will ask me how my nano movers are:

              "Belligerant and numerous!
  • The nano-worker can now carry two CO2 molecules. And like yourself when you carry two heavy bags, this nano-worker is slower when it carries other molecules.

    Interesting... how does the speed compare to mailing DVDs from LA to New York?

    - RG>
  • TFA gave me an amusing idea. It might be possible (eventually) to build a physical molecular embodiment of Conway's [wikipedia.org] "Game of Life" [wikipedia.org] - little molecules running around on a field, combining into 'teams' with different behaviors.

    The molecules themselves could be components in the game, or they could be the 'mules', carrying the game pieces (which would be the information component).

    Of course, hypothetically this could be extended to many other cellular automata.

    They could also implement or be components of wha
  • When I read this, the first thing that came to mind was a real-world analogy of the classic mother-of-all-simulations - Conway's "Game of Life" [wikipedia.org].

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