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To prove that it's at least physically possible, a team from the University of Glasgow has created some cell-like bubbles call iCHELLs out of metallic elements like tungsten bonded with oxygen and phosphorus. These bubbles can self-assemble, and they exhibit many of the same properties that allow biological cells to do what they do, including an internal structure and a selectively porous outer membrane that can let other molecules pass through. It may even be possible to set the metallic cells up to perform photosynthesis.
Let's destroy the earth with technology. A while ago, I read the novel Postsingular by Rudy Rucker, and in the first chapter the Earth gets destroyed, and then undestroyed, and then the novel unfolds and the Earth's likelihood is threatened again, and it looks like the Earth will be destroyed, but it isn't. How does all of this craziness happen you might ask: nanobots! The story revolves around little self-replicating robots. The story explores what it would be like to live in a world where every surface on Earth was coated in little computers, all of which were networked together. It's certainly a neat idea, but whenever you have self-replicating things, you need to worry a bit about what might happen if they get out of control. So, let's assume we, evil scientists that we are, have managed to create a little self-replicating nanobot. This little guy can scurry around, running off something ubiquitous, probably some combination of solar, and some kind of infrared photovoltaics. This little guy, call him Bob, his only mission in life is to create a friend. He scurries around collecting the various ingredients necessary, and using his little robot arms, he slices and dices up the pieces and welds them together to create another copy of himself, Rob. Not satisfied with his work; Bob found Rob quite the bore, and honestly Rob didn't too much like Bob either, both of them part ways and try to fashion a new friend. How long until Bob and Rob and their cohorts manage to chew through all of the material on Earth?
There are two major problems with creating nanoscale Innerspace-like craft that course through our vascular system: finding a small enough source of power — batteries are large, clunky, inefficient things — and, by association, autonomous control. We have written about nanobots before, but don’t be deceived: they are, for the most part, completely dumb and have to be controlled by magnets outside the body, by an incredibly steady-handed surgeon. What we really need, if we want nanobots that can actually self-assemble into helpful swarms, is a nano-scale motor that can be driven with a tiny amount of power — and that’s exactly what researchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts have done. They have taken a single butyl methyl sulfide molecule — C5H12S, just 18 atoms in total — and turned it into an electric motor that can be discretely controlled by a stream of electrons. The molecule mounts itself on a piece of copper, via adsorption, with the sulfur atom acting as a pivot — and by applying a stream of electrons from a scanning tunneling microscope, the molecule begins to spin at up to 120 revolutions per second. With a total diameter of just one nanometer, not only is this by far the smallest electric motor in the world (and the team has already contacted the Guinness Book of World Records for certification), but because the power source is a microscope — the directional tip of the electron microscope is an electrode in the motor — the entire process can also be visualized and confirmed in real time. Most importantly, though, the electron microscope is so accurate that single-molecule motors can be turned on and off. “People have found before that they can make motors driven by light or by chemical reactions, but the issue there is that you’re driving billions of them at a time — every single motor in your beaker,” says Charles Sykes, one of the chemists behind the discovery. “The exciting thing about [this] electrical [motor] is that we can excite and watch the motion of just one, and we can see how that thing’s behaving in real time.”
What is life?
Originally posted by trollz
Sign me up!
I want my consciousness transferred into a robotic body, immune to sickness and tiredness.