It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Originally posted by whitewave
Who is the beneficiary of a man-made, deliberately released virus?
2004: Emerging zoonoses and pathogens of public health significance
Infectious diseases have helped shape the course of human history and there is every indication that these diseases will continue to be significant global events. A number of driving forces and societal changes are now creating an unprecedented environment that favours the expansion and perhaps even acceleration of a group of these diseases termed emerging or re-emerging zoonoses.
In a recent publication by the United States Institute of Medicine entitled Microbial Threats to Health, Emergence, Detection, and Response, the authors suggested that a group of factors are swirling and converging to create a perfect microbial storm. This metaphor helps describe the conditions and dynamics that have produced a new era of emerging diseases that began approximately 25 years ago. From the centre, or eye, of the perfect microbial storm, a group of zoonotic pathogens of significant public health concern are emerging.
Microbes continue to evolve and adapt and now, with the tremendous acceleration and expansion of global trade, human movement and travel and the burgeoning global population of both people and animals, the microbes have an even greater opportunity to adapt, change, and be transported to new hosts and ecosystems, often with catastrophic results. Changes in our weather, climate, ecosystem, animal production systems, economic development, and land use continue to alter the dynamic between hosts, vectors, and microbes in novel ways.
Also see: 2005: Steps must be taken to turn tide of public-microbial war
Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras - a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal. ...human cells with rabbit eggs... pigs with human blood... mice with human brains
"Research projects that create human-animal chimeras risk disturbing fragile ecosystems, endanger health, and affront species integrity."
"One doesn't have to be religious or into animal rights to think this doesn't make sense," (says Jeremy Rifkin). "It's the scientists who want to do this. They've now gone over the edge into the pathological domain." "
...a new class of organisms is likely to emerge. These organisms will be artificial in the sense that they will originally be designed by humans. However, they will reproduce, and will "evolve" into something other than their original form, they will be "alive" under any reasonable definition of the word. ...The pace of evolutionary change will be extraordinarily rapid. ...The impact on humanity and the biosphere could be enormous, larger than the industrial revolution, nuclear weapons, or environmental pollution. We must take steps now to shape the emergence of artificial organisms.
Source: Articifial Life: The Coming Evolution. Farmer, J. Doyne, and Alletta d'A. Belin in Artificial Life II from Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, Proc. Vol. X, Redwood City Calif.: Addison-Wesley, 1992, p. 815.
Tiny robots powered by living muscle have been created by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles. ...The devices were formed by "growing" rat cells on microscopic silicon chips, the researchers report in the journal Nature Materials. ...Less than a millimetre long, the miniscule robots can move themselves without any external source of power.
"Nanotech researchers have built tiny self-assembling machines that even grow their own muscles from cells taken from living animals. ...Besides just blurring the line between organism and machine, the first of these nano-bio-bots may signal a breakthrough in how to mass produce bio-machines: The hybrid devices were grown on silicon chips using the same principles and some of the same technology employed to make integrated circuits. ...The work is a dramatic example of the marriage of biotechnology with the tiny world of nanotechnology. ...the cells assemble, then they undergo a change, so that they actually form a muscle. ..."Now you have a device that has a skeleton and muscles on it to allow it to move." ...Under a microscope, you can see the tiny, two-footed "bio-bots" crawl around.
"I can make hundreds of thousands as easily as I can make one," said lead nanotechnology researcher Carlo Montemagno of the University of California, Los Angeles. ..."They're absolutely alive," Professor Montemagno told BBC News. "I mean the cells actually grow, multiply and assemble - they form the structure themselves. So the device is alive."
Fly-eating robot powers itself
Customizable, Self-assembling Nanotubes
"One of the projects DARPA is currently supporting is work by a team at Michigan State University's College of Engineering, who are developing
reconfigurable micro-robots for use in military, intelligence and law enforcement ...."
Pentagon plans cyber-insect army
The Pentagon's defence scientists want to create an army of cyber-insects that can be remotely controlled to check out explosives and send transmissions. ...The idea is to insert micro-systems at the pupa stage, when the insects can integrate them into their body, so they can be remotely controlled later. ...A similar scheme aimed at manipulating wasps failed when they flew off to feed and mate.
Ed. Note: What happened to the wasps - and their nano-parts - after they "flew off to feed and mate"?
"The combined integration of PNI and gold with silicon-based microdevices has allowed us to fabricate the world's first self-assembled muscle-powered micro-robots," stated the scientists' research paper. ...The team is now trying to apply the system to piezoelectric materials which produce electricity when compressed. If successful this will allow glucose, described as a ubiquitous renewable resource, to be used to create power.
"These flexible photovoltaics could harness half of the sun's spectrum not previously accessed." ..."We made particles from semiconductor crystals which were exactly two, three or four nanometres in size. .." ...Then, they tuned the tiny nanocrystals to catch light at very short wavelengths. ..."The key was finding the right molecules to wrap around our nanoparticles... Too long and the particles couldn't deliver their electrical energy to our circuit; too short, and they clumped up, losing their nanoscale properties. It turned out that one nanometer eight carbon atoms strung together in a chain was 'just right'."
Super Microbes Eat Radioactive Waste ...sponsors at the Energy Department doubt the public is ready for the release of this laboratory-engineered bug into the environment. It might eat nuclear wastes, but they worry about what else might it do...
Molecular evolution by design
A group at UIUC has announced a process that may be called managed evolution. It involves using multiple steps where by successive approximation they evolve a protein in the direction of having the properties they desire. This significantly reduces the amount of labor involved in the evolution and screening process.
The authors conclude that their new method may provide "a general approach to engineering biomolecules and biosystems such as receptors, enzymes, antibodies, ribosymes, DNAzymes and viruses with novel functions."
The notion that the world around us is continuously evolving is a platitude; we rarely grasp its full implications. We do not ordinarily think, for example, of an epidemic disease changing its character as the epidemic spreads. Nor do we think of evolution in plants and animals ocurring in a matter of days or weeks, although it does. And we do not ordinarily imagine the green world around us as a scene of constant, sophisticated chemical warfare, with plants producing pesticides in response to attack, and insects developing resistance. But that is what happens, too.
If we were to grasp the true nature of nature - if we could comprehend the real meaning of evolution - then we could envision a world in which every living plant, insect, and animal species is changing at every instant, in response to every other living plant, insect, and animal. This restless and perpetual change, as inexorable and unstoppable as the waves and tides, implies a world in which all human actions necessarily have uncertain effects. The total system we call the biosphere is so complicated that we cannot know in advance the consequences of anything that we do. ...That is why even our most enlightened past efforts have had undesirable outcomes - either because we did not understanbd enough, or because the ever-changing world responded to our actions in unexpected ways.
Sometime in the twenty-first century, our self-deluded recklessness will collide with our growing technological power. One area where this will occur is in the meeting point of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and computer technology. What all three have in common is the ability to release self-replicating entities into the environment.
Source: Prey. (c) 2002 by Michael Crichton. Inroduction.
In the Golem project (Genetically Organized Lifelike Electro Mechanics) we conducted a set of experiments in which simple electro-mechanical systems evolved from scratch to yield physical locomoting machines. Like biological lifeforms whose structure and function exploit the behaviors afforded by their own chemical and mechanical medium, our evolved creatures take advantage of the nature of their own medium - thermoplastic, motors, and artificial neurons. We thus achieve autonomy of design and construction using evolution in a limited universe physical simulation, coupled to off-the-shelf rapid manufacturing technology. This is the first time robots have been robotically designed and robotically fabricated.
Also see: The New Military