James Gimzewski’s lecture in class brought up many aspects of nanotechnology and the impact that it may have on the world. Additionally, Professor Vesna showed us many examples of nanotechnology during her lecture on Tuesday, including her association and investigation into the Buckyball. But what really grabbed my attention was the reading by Jim Gimzewski and Professor Vesna when they discuss how nanotechnology will lead us into a shift of “our perception of reality from a purely visual culture to one based on sensing and connectivity.” This interested me on two levels: this idea is embedded in my final project and this concept could be of much help in cancer research, the professional field that I hope to one day delve into.

As mentioned in the reading, science on the microscopic level has been visually perceived by science fiction; actual footage of the inside of cells and molecules has not fully been achieved. But through nanotechnology, gaining actual visual access into the human body could help to solve many problems. This is part of my final project as I attempt to use nanotechnology to get inside of the human body in order to diagnose health problems such as plaque buildup and colon cancer. Oftentimes, there are medical treatments available for such health issues but limitations in detection do not allow for these treatments to become useful as the disease has progressed too far. But with the ability to get actual footage of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive tracts, detection can be timely and quick, allowing for timely and proper treatment to better aid ill patients back to health. This entire process could potentially save millions of lives that would otherwise have ended due to disease. Nanotechnology is at the basis of this concept as it is needed to receive the video footage from inside the body. Such devices have been created, such as the video pill, which is designed to be swallowed and receive images from inside the digestive system (more information at http://archives.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/02/06/video.pill/).

The Video Pill.

The Video Pill.

Even smaller cameras would be needed in order to enter into the circulatory system and beyond. But as nanotechnology rapidly advances, this could definitely be a life-saving innovation that has the potential to redefine the entire medical field.

In terms of cancer research, nanotechnology may be the key to answering the ultimate questions regarding cancer cells and why/how they form. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (full data at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/lcod.htm). But being able to get inside of cancer cells may be the key to better understanding how they work. For me, I hope to become a cancer researcher but would not mind if the cure for cancer was found before I get the chance. With these rapid advancements in nanotechnology, microscopic cameras small enough to get inside of a living cell may only be a few years away. There have already been successes in creating color cameras capable of taking pictures (not videos) that equal the size of a fingernail.

An example of one of the worlds smallest cameras.

An example of one of the world's smallest cameras.

With the rapid increase in research around the world and advancing nanotechnology, the cure for cancer may be closer than we believe. Nanotechnology has a lot of potential power within the medical and research profession.

Much of microscopic science is based on educated yet abstract portrayals from various forms of research. But being able to get actual footage of these microscopic objects would not only be extremely fascinating and amazing but also hold great medicinal use. Achieving this requires nanotechnology and its ability to continue improving over the years to come. The possibilities that stem from nanotechnology are nearly endless, but I believe that those relating to medicine and health are the ones that we need to be pursuing above all others. This world has come a long way in detecting, diagnosing, and treating ill patients; nanotechnology may just be the field that puts all of this over the top.

- Travis Johnson

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