The history of science is littered with ideas, many of them good, some bad, some of them goofy a few of them very dangerous. Then there are the ideas that are so far beyond the existing purview that they do not seem like they could be real. Either that they sound like fiction or simply cannot be processed in any sort of meaningful way. It is said that when Spanish ships first landed in South America the Indigenous peoples literally could not see them coming, or at least could not process what they were seeing. There was nothing in their experience to provide reference for what was going on. It is much the same situation now with the idea of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is inconceivable

People can believe a lot of things when we see them but there are somethings that seem a bit too odd to believe even when seen. Electric cars still being one of them, the flap for the power outlet on the side of the Smart car looking an awful lot like the flap on a gas tank covering a gas cap. It was strongly suggested to buyers of the new self-driving cars that they still act like they are driving – as opposed to eating, reading or taking a nap – as not to upset or confuse the other motorist.

If we have trouble imaging this in real life just think how much harder it would be to get a handle on the idea of microscopic robots that can be injected directly into the human blood stream. Take a moment and think about it. While not the only definition of example of nanotechnology, which really only means the use and applications of very small objects and have applications in fields such as chemistry, physics and materials, it is certainly one of the most popular and has the most applications when it comes to human life, particularly in terms of medical science.

No more needles

Or at least use them in new and interesting ways. One of the more common and comprehensible applications of nanotechnology is as drug delivery system. Nanoparticles currently under construction will be able to be used for people who need regular doses of drugs such as chemotherapy patients and insulin for Type I diabetics. According to the company BIND Biosciences, they have successfully completed Phase 1 testing for delivery of chemotherapy drugs and are going on with Phase 2. If that one succeeds there would only be one more before approval. There is also work being done on a nanocapsules release hydrogen ions which bind fibers together, constructing a ‘matrix’ that releases insulin when glucose levels reach dangerous levels.

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Another use for nanotechnology is in diagnostics. For example, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have found away to use nanotubes equipped with antibodies in implantable chips to detect cancer cells if and when they enter the blood stream.

We can re-build them

While it is not quite possible yet, there are a lot of researchers looking at the possibility of using nanotechnology, particularly nanobots, to repair and possibly rebuild cells. This could have previously unthought of implications for some of the most serious conditions. One of the most straight forward cases is osteoporosis, in which bone cells can be rebuilt and hardened. It could also be used against Multiple Scleorisis, particularly in the early stages, rebuilding the myelin in the brain and protecting if from any more lesions forming. It is even possible in the case of ALS for nanotechnology to repair and reactivate the portions of the brain affecting motor skills and movement.

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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