The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Original Nanotechnology

During a recent family reunion I had the opportunity to converse with the husband of one of my cousin's and he made some comments that struck me in an intriguing way. He is an engineer and business consultant and very well read, but when he caught me reading some biochemistry and neuroscience articles that had just been published in Nature, he interjected to the effect of
'Nature? What good is reading about leaves and trees! Give me a magazine about Technology any day, something practical, thats the future you know.'

I spent part of this evening walking around New York City and I began to notice the pockets of trees and birds and animals that profuse throughout the urban environs. I couldn't help but view the whole scene rather differently: as simply a mottle of giant primitive man-made structures surrounded by immense networks and systems and microscopic machines that are far more advanced and complex than one can possibly fathom. New York City, with its huge skyscrapers, snaking subways and electrical lines, and its systems upon systems of machines, computers, and mechanisms, is amazingly intricate and represents a pinnacle of human achievement. But it pales in comparison to the complexity of a single tree, or any multicellular organism for that matter. Meditate on this fact for a moment -- a single microscopic cell with its countless enzymes and proteins and genomic machinery is far more complicated than even the massive nuclear reactor that powers this city. One must simply view a chart of the most basic biochemical processes that occur in the cell to understand the magnitude of the systems of cellular machinery. (See link at bottom of this post).
I have oft read science fiction stories and seen movies that illustrate amazing advancements made through the deconstruction and analysis of technologies from highly advanced extraterrestrial beings. Such an opportunity is already before us, and we are really just barely scratching the surface of what I consider to be the original nanotechnology - life.


Post a Comment

<< Home