Tag Archives: nanotech

Centre for Responsible Nanotechnology at five years old

This Tetrahedron was constructed from DNA molecules by Andrew Turberfield at the University of OxfordVia the blog Responsible Nanotechnology, Mike Treder, Executive Director of the Centre for Responsible Nanotechnology presents his thoughts on the state of the emerging science of nanotech, five year’s since the centre’s creation. He begins by highlighting the original positions made by CRN in 2003:

“Early in 2003, we published the following foundational statements that summarized CRN’s basic positions:

The following post then analyses each of these in turn, comparing things now in 2008 to how it was then back in 2003. There’s been a lot of progress in the field since then but they believe their assumptions remain true. As new ways to manipulate matter at the nanoscale are discovered, potential beneficial uses and dangers will increase exponentially. Theodore Judson’s forthcoming novel ‘The Martian General’s Daughter’ for instance, has a Roman-like empire collapsing because a nanotechnology plague is destroying the metal inside computers and equipment.

[DNA tetrahedron created by Andrew J. Turberfield, Department of Physics, University of Oxford. Image via Nanorex, Inc.]

Other uses for sperm …

Sperm-and-egg … besides the one obvious use that has been known about for some time, of course. [Image from Wikipedia]

First off, it appears that certain proteins in the semen of fruit flies have the power to do more than just fertilize eggs: they affect the physiological behaviour of the female, making her produce more eggs and become less interested in sex with other males. Possessive husbands the world over can probably see a commercial application for that bit of research.

But here’s another: human sperm can move at a rate of seven inches per hour, which doesn’t sound too fast until you consider how tiny they are. The “flagellum” tail of a sperm is an incredibly efficient biological propulsion system at the microscopic scale, which is one of the reasons researchers are looking to recreate the same systems as powerplants for medical nanobots. [Via SlashDot]

[tags]sperm, molecular, biology, nanotech[/tags]

Mechanical nanocomputers

Babbage-style mechanical 'difference engine'Via Bruce Sterling, we discover that a group of US physicists have produced a blueprint for a robust nanoscale microprocessor. Not such groundbreaking news, you might think – until you discover that they are entirely based on mechanical principles derived from the famous Babbage Engine, a Victorian-era mechanical computer. [Image by lorentey]

Electronic computers proliferated once semiconductors became a reliable mass-production substrate, but there are some places where electronics are too delicate to operate reliably. Which reminds me of a science fiction novel in which the military spacecraft are fitted with mechanical computers so as not to be susceptible to damage from the EMP of nuclear weapons … a big Futurismic ‘thank you’ to anyone who can remind me of the author and title.

In related news, the ubiquitous Google have added another lump sum to the annual Turing Award, the “highest award in the field of computing science” for innovative ideas.