What is a Nanomachine?
Nanomachines are very small machines, the dimensions or components of which are measured in nanometers. A nanomachine may be larger than 1,000 nanometers, but usually no larger than 10,000 nanometers (10 microns). Designing and fabricating nanomachines is a goal in the large and well-funded discipline of nanotechnology, though many workers in nanotechnology take the less ambitious route of designing passive nanoscale materials. A nanomachine refers to an active, functioning system with nanoscale components. The human body is filled with nanomachines, arguably making up most of its mass. A cell might be considered a nanomachine because it consists of nanoscale components. An even more obvious nanomachine would be ribosomes, molecular factories that synthesize proteins. Ribosomes are about 20 nanometers in diameter. Other biological nanomachines would be bacteria and viruses. Currently, nanomachines are still essentially in the research-and-development phase, though researchers are very
A nanomachine is built from individual atoms, like the parts of a tiny construction kit, with atomic wheels and motors. A nanomachine will make other products from atoms, such as nanovehicles to transport drugs through the body’s blood stream. Vast armies of nanomachines might even assemble CARBON COMPUTERS atom by atom.
However the notion of machine is itself polysemic, so that it can support dissimilar views of living systems and teach quite different lessons to nanoscientists and engineers [12; see 13]. It can also support dissimilar images of the future and teach quite different lessons to the scientifically interested public. The nanomachine I am interested in in this article is the nanosubmersible, which has mainly positive associations, unlike the nano-assembler that replicates and destroys the earth. These two visions of a utopian or dystopian nano-future seem to match onto the different discourses of hope and fear associated with either medical GMOs (genetically modified organisms), which are regarded as rather beneficial, and environmental GMOs, i.e. foods and crops, which are not . The Various Guises of Nanobots Nanomachines, in the shape of nanobots, flip not only between the corporeal and the mechanical, the metaphorical and the literal and the fictional and the factional in an almost