Term Paper: Nanomachines the Science of Molecular

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[. . .] The replication instructions within these hybrid biological/mechanical machines to be designed by engineers will be composed of computer code instead of DNA is one such difference worth mentioning.

However, these machines still look like and perform as existing cell types and this is what Drexler and other engineers and nanobiologists foresee. Viruses are composed of proteins and coding material and its replication is possible only within a host organism and this nature of viruses will be built into some assemblers. A virus-like assembler, after entering a cell, utilizing the freshly introduced coding information, can instruct the cell's own internal machinery to replicate. Other assemblers similar to bacteria will carry within their own firm boundaries, all the materials which are required for biosynthesis, and hence would be independent. They might also make alterations improving or redesigning the original cells by becoming organelles within eukaryotic cells, and are also similar to bacteria in this respect. (Nanomachines and biological systems: Utopia or Dystopia)

Today's surgery of using a massive blade cutting through a crowd of cells, killing thousands, will appear pretty barbaric from a cell's point-of-view. To stitch up the damage, a thick cable is towed in, and for healing to take place, it is left to the cells to discard their dead and multiply. The administration of a drug to a patient from the cell's point-of-view can be visualized as follows: the drug molecules, before recognizing specific molecules by "touch," knock pointlessly around till they get adjusted into their target molecule. Compare this to a molecular machine equipped with a nano-computer that holds data on the structure of all healthy tissue, which can feel, prepare, and act at this level.

It is possible to build repair machines with a size of a bacterium, which can enter and leave cells, can wipe out intruders in the blood cells and can even check the DNA itself for any mistakes. Nowadays, doctors depend on drug molecules and the cell's capability to mend itself, when a cell is damaged, even though this process does not always bring the patient back to health. In future, doctors can restore cells that have been damaged to the point of inactivity with the help of nano-devices, which can repair on the smallest components of the cell. These machines can reconstruct injured molecules inside the cell by getting to the base of the problem. (The Promise of Nanotechnology)

Nanomachines can provide support to the immune system, because these machines can fight with natural nanomachines, viruses, and because the body's own immune system has some limitations like not remembering the shape of its enemies, failing to identify malignant cells and delaying full development of immune reaction. Nanomachines can make a mammoth contribution to ageing, can affect bacteria, can influence tumors and also help in remodeling damaged tissue. (Nanotechnology and Medicine) The daily work of the body is done by the molecular machines. Muscles affect our motions while we chew and swallow. The bundle of molecular fibers, enclosed in muscle fibers, compress by sliding against others. The molecular machines in stomach and intestines, called digestive enzymes, break down the complex molecules in food into smaller molecules and these are used for the purpose of fuel or are used as building blocks. (Unbounding the Future: The Nanotechnology Revolution)

Useful molecules are carried to the bloodstream by the molecular devices which are found in the outer layer of the digestive tract. The molecular storage devices which are called hemoglobin enhance oxygen in the lungs. The heart, driven by molecular fibers, pumps blood loaded with fuel and oxygen to cells. Contraction in the muscles is based on sliding molecular fibers and is driven by fuel and oxygen. In the brain, the molecular pumps that influence nerve cells are done by nanomachines. Molecular machines in the liver that build and break down a whole mass of molecules are influenced by nanomachines. Such a process is repeated in other parts of the body. (Unbounding the Future: The Nanotechnology Revolution)

Nanomachines which can make replica of themselves are another objective of nanotechnology. A machine can be able to construct replica of it, if it can reorganize atoms in order to build new materials. Products which are thus made by nanomachines will be extremely low-priced, if this objective is achieved. This is because, the technology, once fine tuned will not need specific materials, which might be uncommon and therefore cost money, as it will be self-replicating. Nanotechnology will sign an end to traditional financial systems is the forecast of Arthur C. Clarke. A world of stimulating promises will open up, if scientists would be able to design nanomachines which would have the capacity to reorganize atoms. Advanced treatments for many diseases can be given by nanomachines which are modeled for different purposes. Injecting medical nanomachines, programmed to recognize and disassemble cancerous cells, into the bloodstream of cancer victims, can provide a rapid and efficient treatment for all types of cancer. Damaged tissue and bones can be mended by nanomachines. (Nanomachines: Nanotechnology's Big Promise in a Small Package)

By building molecular support structures by reassembling nearby tissue, they could even be used to toughen bones and muscle tissue. Medical science will speedily adopt treatments for most of the human illnesses which will have the capacity to influence human cells at the minute level. These treatments will be cheap and accessible to the whole people because nanomachines will be designed in such a way to make copies of them. If nanotechnology is proved to be effective, problems relating to shortage of food problems of hunger can be solved. As nanomachines can have the capacity to change anything into food, this food could be used to solve problems of hunger worldwide.

Food produced by nanomachines would be less expensive and would be available to all. As in the case of food, which enables to influence the ever-increasing population, nanomachines would be able to produce other goods as well. Also clothing, houses, televisions, cars and computers would be made possible at less money. As nanomachines will change all garbage into new goods which can be consumed there need not be worries in relation to the garbage produced. (Nanomachines: Nanotechnology's Big Promise in a Small Package) Another advantage of using nanomachines is that individual units would require less energy to operate. Nanites would exist for centuries before collapsing and hence robustness is another potential asset. (Nanomachine)

The finding of toxic chemicals and measuring of their concentrations, in the environment is another prospective application. High operational speed is possible due to the microscopic size of nanomachines. (Nanomachine) This is because all machines and systems will be likely to work faster as their size reduces. Nanotechnology can resolve environmental problems like ozone depletion and global warming. By releasing clouds of nanomachines into the upper atmosphere, these nanomachines can methodically destroy the ozone reducing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and build new ozone molecules out of water and carbon dioxide.

As water and carbondioxide both contain oxygen, the atmosphere contains an abundant supply of oxygen atoms; and so ozone (O3) can be built out of 3 oxygen atoms. Teams of dedicated nanomachines could be engaged to destroy the surplus CO2 in the lower atmosphere while the ozone building teams are at work in the upper atmosphere. CO2 has been recognized as one of the major contributors to global warming and is a heat trapping gas. To bring back the planet's ecosystem and to stop global warming, surplus CO2 has to be removed, which can be done by nanomachines. All species on earth will be profited by this. A new era for humanity will begin once the nanotechnology is perfected and nanomachines are produced. This will quickly lead to the end of hunger, illness, and environmental problems. (Nanomachines: Nanotechnology's Big Promise in a Small Package)

The intermingling of nanotechnology in the form of nanosize particles into the mainstream is evident in the products of everyday use such as sunscreen, paint, cosmetics, and industrial coatings awaiting its more extensive uses in the near future. Minimization of side effects of the drugs through the preparation of accurate combinations with the help of nanoparticles is experimented in the field of Pharmaceuticals. Eradication of diseases like cancer warranted coating of the receptors of cells with nanoparticles of drugs that inhibits the reproductive cycle. Use of Nanosensors for check up of the health of astronauts is being explored by the NASA and the University of Michigan.

The aim is to explore the method of infusing the blood cells of astronauts for continuous monitoring of the exposure to radiations or other infectious agents. Dendrimers and synthetic polymers having a diameter of less than 5nm are the constituents of the devices. This involves the infusion of nanosensors into white blood cells, for detecting the symptoms of biochemical changes due to radiation. The fluorescent tags are attached in order to make the dendrimers glow with the location of proteins related to cell death. Development of retinal scanning device with laser that detects fluorescence from… [END OF PREVIEW]

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