Fun with nanotech

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Feb 03 2002 - 16:00:35 MST

Robert Freitas of "Nanomedicine" fame has published (in 2001) a paper
detailing artificial phagocytes (white blood cell replacements), i.e. an
artificial immune system. The work joins his previous work on
"Respirocytes" (red blood cell replacements) and "Clottocytes" (platelet
replacements). I can't say this is the best place to start if you're just
beginning to look into nanotech, but if you're already familiar with
nanotech theory and you want to get some idea of what real nanodevices
might be like, Robert Freitas's work is probably the best available.

> Abstract
> Nanomedicine offers the prospect of powerful new tools for
> the treatment of human diseases and the improvement of
> human biological systems using molecular nanotechnology.
> This paper presents a theoretical nanorobot scaling study for
> artificial mechanical phagocytes of microscopic size, called
> "microbivores," whose primary function is to destroy
> microbiological pathogens found in the human bloodstream
> using a digest and discharge protocol. The microbivore is an
> oblate spheroidal nanomedical device measuring 3.4
> microns in diameter along its major axis and 2.0 microns in
> diameter along its minor axis, consisting of 610 billion
> precisely arranged structural atoms in a gross geometric
> volume of 12.1 micron^3. The device may consume up to 200
> pW of continuous power while completely digesting trapped
> microbes at a maximum throughput of 2 micron^3 of organic
> material per 30-second cycle. Microbivores are up to ~1000
> times faster-acting than either natural or antibiotic-assisted
> biological phagocytic defenses, and are ~80 times more
> efficient as phagocytic agents than macrophages, in terms of
> volume/sec digested per unit volume of phagocytic agent.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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