Bacteria Helpless Slaves To Nanobot Master

A solar-powered nanobot is able to use a swarm of helpless bacterial slaves to push it in any desired direction. Since these bacteria live for only a few hours, this is much more efficient than recruiting them, then training them, and then getting them to put on little tiny yokes.

Watch the video below, which shows 3,000 bacteria pushing a V-shaped nanobot toward its goal.

(Bacteria under computer control)

Here's how it works:

The communication component sends tiny electromagnetic pulses that are detected by an external computer.

The sensor meanwhile detects surrounding pH levels--the higher the pH concentration, the faster the electromagnetic pulses emitted by the micro-machine. The external computer uses these signals to direct a swarm of about 3,000 magnetically-sensitive bacteria, which push the micro-machine around as it pulses. The bacteria push the micro-machine closer to the higher pH concentrations and change its direction if it pulses too slowly.

Readers may recall the intellectual cells from Greg Bear's 1984 classic Blood Music. These tiny cells helped the protagonist out, clearing up his acne and improving his eyesight. Helped out at first, anyway.

From MIT Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/19/2009)

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