Week 9 Applied Nanotechnology: Cancer and a Space Elevator? by Roger Call

Nanotechnology “is the development and engineering of devices so small that they are measured on a molecular scale.”  This relatively new and quickly growing branch of science integrates many of the other disciplines to create these molecular devices.  Physics, material science, engineering and chemists make up only a few of the many.  Not only does nanotechnology integrate many of the sciences, but is used in a wide variety of technologies and products.  One of the areas in which nanotechnology is being implemented, is curing cancer.

Nanotechnology could very well be a great step towards finding a true cure towards cancer.  Many properties of nanotechnologically created devices have proven to be very helpful in cancer research.  For example,  devices have been used to locate and gather information about tumors in the human body.  Nanotechnology implementing MRI has been able to detect cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes without requiring surgery.  Tiny capsules called nanoscale drug delivery devices are being used to transport anti-cancer agents directly to tumor locations, cutting down on the harmful impact to the rest of the healthy cells and tissues.  Such nanoscale delivery agents are increasingly being used to treat specific areas of the body infected with cancerous cells.  As nanotechnology continues to advance, the nanoscale devices may be able to detect cancer at a stage earlier than doctors have been previously able to detect.  The earlier the detection the greater chance of success in dealing with the cancer effectively. 

The above animation depicts the use of nanotechnology in destroying tumor cells in the human body.

The National Cancer Institute has been supporting the effort for implementation of nanotechnology in curing cancer for the past few years.  The NCI has even developed a plan, which they call the cancer nanotechnology plan.  This plan will create demanding deadlines for advances in nanotechnology suited for detection and fighting cancerous cells and mutagens.

When I stumbled across this article I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the idea, but apparently Japanese scientists believe that they can construct a space elevator.  This elevator would consist of an extremely strong rope through the use of carbon nanotube technology.  According to the chairman of the organization the current technology will not quite suffice to withstand the forces placed on the cable, but the rope would only need to be about four times stronger than the current cable, and seeing as the strength of nanotechnological ropes and fibers has increased by one hundred times over the past five years, this goal seems quite feasible.

Roger Call

Section C

http://nano.cancer.gov/news_center/media_backgrounder.asp

http://i.gizmodo.com/5053048/japanese-scientists-plan-to-build-space-elevator

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