A fascinating set of articles came out recently discussing the progress in micro and nano robotic techniques above. Is the picture from a short piece in IEEE Spectrum discussing the work of Dr. Ada Poon at the Standford Poon Group who are working on medical applications of beamed power.
The basis is this technical paper (PDF). Which talks about the chip, it essentially couples the beamed energy with a tiny antenna and converts the energy to a form needed to drive the chip using a electromagnetic propulsion fabricated on chip. Very cool. I will also point out that the Poon Group appears to be reasonably focused, some similar organizations I have run across or worked with have gotten way too diffuse and seem to wander off topic all the time. Dr. Poon is doing a good job focusing on some key enabling technologies in the field.
So every battle platform needs its weapons, and what do you know these guys seem to have just the ticket.
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed a robotic device made from DNA that could potentially seek out specific cell targets.
Obviously they are looking to ways to use this in the form of a more traditional delivery system, say a shot, but the Dreadnought could also use these for delivering deadly loads into exactly the right spot possibly repeatedly over time without repeated shots etc.
On its own very cool, in combination with everything else going on, mind-blowing!!
And yet we also complain about the costs of medicine. The reason that money is put into these efforts is both altruistic and profit driven:
- Medicine is after all about making life better for human beings
- These techniques promise profound effects with minimal collateral damage
- These devices can be fabricated in their thousands using ultra clean and precise techniques that will both lower cost and improve performance.
- The price performance should move towards a Moore’s Rule like model of decreasing price AND increasing performance on a steep slope.
- Conditions untreatable today will be treatable
- People who would have died will live…some with health issues that will make them a drain on the economy.
- Early clinical trials and during ramp up and cost recoupment the prices will be high because of limited supply and price controls…and people will complain about the cost of medicine.
And so the cycle will go on. Do not take my screeds against Health Care costs and the Medical Establishment as any kind of Luddism, I want more technology more quickly, its the only path to better human lives. What I hate is the almost Medieval Economic model of the existing ME in the US.