Machine Man


Early in the days of natural history, man tried to explain the human body as a machine. This worked for certain aspects such as the bones and muscles, which operated much like levels and pumps, but other physiological processes such as digestion proved much move complicated. Growth and reproduction were impossible to describe by the mechanists. Advances in chemistry gave us a clearer idea about digestion and some other processes, but the basics of growth and reproduction were not truly understood until the discovery of DNA in 1869.

With more and more information on cellular components and the “mechanics” of molecular processes, there seems to be a return to mechanical thinking. “Nanobots” are a hot new area of research. Tiny machines can swim through the body seeking out cancer cells, opening blood vessels, repairing cellular damage. Are nanobots the future? or are we sending a machine to do what a nucleic acid could do better?

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One Response to Machine Man

  1. jnmllr says:

    Your concluding question provokes my immediate agreement and then, almost instantaneously, subsequent doubt. Where does the nucleic acid that would “do better” come from? I’m unsure what you are pointing towards — drug intervention, gene therapy? In any case if the “nucleic acid” is a medical intervention (hence strictly ‘non-natural’ even if organic) how does it differ from putting a robot in the bloodstream? I don’t want tiny teeeny robots roaming through my veins, but I have to say there’s already a lot of stuff coursing through them that is man-made (no list available.)

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