Re: jeff's cyborg cells
Fri, 4 Jun 1999 08:02:08 -0700 describes a book which was supposed to have been published by now on using nanotech within the body. The web page has a table of contents, chapter summaries, and FAQ. Personally I had some concerns about whether we should really by trying to describe in this level of detail how these technologies might be used, at this early point. Here is an excerpt from a post I made last July:

> > Consider that a nanostructured data storage device measuring ~8,000
> > micron3, a cubic volume about the size of a single human liver cell and
> > smaller than a typical neuron, could store an amount of information
> > equivalent to the entire Library of Congress. If implanted somewhere
> > in the human brain, together with the appropriate interface mechanisms,
> > such a device could allow extremely rapid access to this information.
> >
> > A single nanocomputer CPU, also having the volume of just one tiny human
> > cell, could compute at the rate of 10 teraflops (1013 floating-point
> > operations per second), approximately equalling (by many estimates)
> > the computational output of the entire human brain. Such a nanocomputer
> > might produce only about 0.001 watt of waste heat, as compared to the ~25
> > watts of waste heat for the biological brain in which the nanocomputer
> > might be embedded.
> It's a huge step from fixing broken chromosomes and killing bacteria to
> being able to interface to a Library of Congress neuron. Glossing over
> the immense difficulty of the "appropriate interface mechanisms" makes
> this a highly misleading example, in my opinion. The tiny nanocomputer
> is problematical as well. I suspect that "only" .001 watt, when emitted
> by a device the size of a cell, would cause significant localized cooling
> problems, not to mention the software problems needed to make effective
> use of this computer within the framework of the brain.
> Overall the book sounds like it may be an interesting piece of speculative
> engineering, but I wonder whether it will do much in the long run to
> advance nanotechnology.

I wonder if the apparent delay in the book's publication may reflect similar concerns arising in the review process.