We don't have any method of mass-producing nanotechnology at this point. In my opinion, the nature of non-manufacturing will pretty much dictate what we can do with the technology.
This is true, but consider we now mass produce lots of things that were once very hard to produce at all:
Vaccines (which is a nanotechnology in some senses).
As much as I am wary of GM foods, there was even an article the other day where they were experimenting with GM for producing human proteins for medical purposes, apparently in vaccines or supplements, by growing them in a plant, since the scientists claimed that it's harder for a plant virus to mutate and produce problems in humans or animals.
Imagine if you could grow a flu vaccine in the stalks of corn or sugar cane, instead of risky, messy eggs.
This is the sort of approach I would ultimately envision even with non-organic nano-technology, which is to use self-replication. The scientists don't know how to do the self replication directly, but they do know how to use GM to trick the existing organic systems into mass replication of the needed proteins.
We already do this in some cases where he nano-scale is not important in every day usage, yet it's actually involved and essential: Vinegar, cheese, yeast, ethanol, sugars, (especially sugar beets since the beet itself is useless before processing, but its structure contains the sugar components.
So even though we don't think of it much, these products actually involve mass produced nano-tech, but we haven't learned to improve or manipulate these systems just yet. With work, you could maybe make a better acetobacter, or a better cheese, or a better yeast, etc.
It may be possible to mass produce substrates or template components through engineered, DNA and DNA origami, which can be mass produced through GM of existing organisms, and then extracted and coated in composite material to make machines that are extremely small and very useful (and I mean primarily in medicine, maintenance, or composite building materials or coatings).
While the technical details of this is beyond our present comprehension, there is no theoretical reason why these techniques wouldn't work.
This could one day allow us to build cybernetic immune systems with the best of both organic and in-organic components, or extremely efficient energy harvesting devices, such as would be needed in any useful nano-machine, or possible future solar panels.
And back on the main topic, it has also become apparent that some micro-organisms are able to distinguish between and sort hydrogen atoms by isotope, somehow. Perhaps an engineered organism could sort He3 by isotope in order to mine, refine, and store it more efficiently, so that you don't have the wrong isotopes contaminating a reaction.
27th May 2012 - 04:42 PM
QUOTE (DVDGuy+May 21 2012, 03:57 PM)
Just watched a documentary on the efforts being undertaken to plan return trips to the Lunar surface - primarily to mine for Helium-3.
What I take issue with is this:
1. They talk about "strip-mining" the Moon. I live in a mining town, and I know the devastation that strip-mining causes to the biosphere, so I'm a little hesitant about this approach. (Then again, there isn't really a biosphere on the Moon.)
2. Isn't the amount of He-3 that we will be able to find on the Moon a finite resource? If it is, then we run into the same problem as using fossil fuels; we will run out of the material some day.
So is it really worth it to undertake this endeavour in our search for new sources of energy?
I'm all for Lunar Helium-3 Mining.
1. Strip mining would be what it would take. There is no environment to ruin on the moon other than view outside @ night for that matter all the strip mining could take place on the side you don't see @ night. so the sight pollution could be easily avoided. and the resources gained could be put use to build infrastructure.
2. It is semi-finite admittedly a word I invented. It is constantly being replaced by the Sun. Eventually once the infrastructure is there we could build giant Bussard collectors to both provide power and direct collection.
As FBM pointed out the fusion powered nano technology thing is probably off the table. Solar powered Nano catalysts to separate minerals into elements or scrub CO2 may prove useful though.
I will say this would depend on a sustainable scalable Helium-3 fusion reactor design that has a net positive energy output. There are small scale reactors that have a net + energy output however there is limited run-time and the net + energy output has yet to be harnessed at least according to my sources.
30th May 2012 - 01:00 PM
The mining is a great idea that's waiting to happen. It will require sufficient technological infrastructure before it makes 'sense', and that's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem.
That said, unless we screw up the planet to the point where we cannot afford to develop space (i.e., through resources depletion or ecological devastation), it should happen *someday*. So, to make it happen sooner, if we proactively partake of activities that increase our technological base, we can be part of the 'process'. OTOH, if we help consume biodiversity or nonrenewables *unwisely* it becomes less likely.
So, how you spend *your* time and money really matters.
PhysOrg scientific forums are totally dedicated to science, physics, and technology. Besides topical forums such as nanotechnology, quantum physics, silicon and III-V technology, applied physics, materials, space and others, you can also join our news and publications discussions. We also provide an off-topic forum category. If you need specific help on a scientific problem or have a question related to physics or technology, visit the PhysOrg Forums. Here you’ll find experts from various fields online every day.
To quit out of "lo-fi" mode and return to the regular forums, please click here