In this month's Wired UK, Warren Ellis waxes apocalyptopoetic about tiny transportation systems as a thing of future beauty:
Designing a transport hub for the loading and traffic flow of pharma capsules built to deliver drugs directly into the heart of cancer tumours, using carbon fullerenes and working on the nanoscale, where communication between building and vehicle will have to be conducted via coded protein transfer because you’re below the limit at which radio waves can be transmitted or received.
I’d call it an intron depot, after the book by Masamune Shirow. But an intron, science assures me, is a chunk of DNA within a gene that doesn’t code into protein, so maybe that wouldn’t fit so well. But that could well be a real problem to solve – design me an intron depot so I can manage the traffic flow of nanoscopic drug delivery cars. I’m trying to imagine the nature of the computing required to oversee artificial traffic within the human body, when we can’t yet control traffic in Birmingham.
I almost wish the scene would be like the Combined Miniature Deterrent Forces in the 60s film Fantastic Voyage. America’s finest scientists and soldiers being driven around a weird, vast Brutalist underground base in electric golf carts, working to reduce submarines to microscopic size in great disco-floored scientific halls. But that’s a problem of the future: the future isn’t big any more. The future’s small.
Nick Sousanis, who delivered his doctoral dissertation in comic book form, has a new comic in the current Nature magazine, explaining the last 25 years’ worth of climate talks, as a primer in advance of the Paris climate talks next week.
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