Making nanobots is as much art as science. Using a mastery of both biochemistry and physics, tiny machines can be built and programmed to perform all sorts of seemingly impossible tasks at the molecular level. Today’s video is from Tim Blais, student of physics and creator of A Capella Science, and features the sultry tones of Dorothy Andrusiak. It’s not only a fun filk of Camila Cabello’s Havana, it’s also a deep dive into a whole world of cutting edge technology that most people never get to visit.

Pause the Krypton Radio stream using the controller at the right while you watch this. It’s okay. You can turn it back on when you’re done, guilt free.

Music videos from A Capella Science are always a double treat. Not only do you get an earworm for the day, you get an introduction to some entire branch of science you may not have known very much about.

In this case, it’s all about molecular robotics, which is the science (and art) of making tiny machines that move materials from place to place. For all its advancements, the creation of nanobots is still at the “let’s see what we can make it do” phase, with some practical applications already being explored (one of the more exciting breakthroughs in this area is CRISPR/Cas, the recently discovered self-repair mechanism cells use to protect themselves from viral attack). That said, it is already possible to make nano-scale molecular factories that can change the outcomes of chemical processes, essentially making complex multi-step operations into an all-in-one reaction designed to produce a specific result. This lets the scientists create molecular materials impossible to create any other way.

Even building logic gates and complex information retrieval systems is possible, providing ways to report on, and analyze, the reactions underway. The more profound realization, though, is that a lot of the things they’re working on in the lab are already happening inside our own bodies – so technically speaking, we are all macro-scale, self-aware nanobots.

Enjoy today’s offering – and yes, you’ll be able to hear this on Krypton Radio as part of our unique music library, along with thousands of other songs only a full time geek culture radio station would ever play.

A CAPELLA SCIENCE STUFF:
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DOROTHY ANDRUSIAK STUFF:
Facebook: http://facebook.com/dorothyandrusiak
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EPRSC LINKS:
EPSRC Molecular Robotics program: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant….
Prof Dave Leigh group webpage: http://www.catenane.net
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REFERENCES:
[1] http://www.catenane.net/pdfs/articles…
[2] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/…
[3] https://www.nature.com/articles/natur…
[4] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/…
[5] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/…
[6] http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articl…
[7] https://www.nature.com/articles/natur…
[8] http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/Articl…
[9] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/…
[10] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/…
[11] http://rotaxane.net/pdfs/articles/Lei…
[12] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/…
[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…
[14] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_cp8…
[15] https://www.wehi.edu.au/wehi-tv/chrom…
[16] https://www.wehi.edu.au/wehi-tv/x-ina…
[17] https://www.wehi.edu.au/wehi-tv/molec…
[18] ‘Inner Life of the Cell,’ © 2006 President and Fellows of Harvard College. Created by Alain Viel, PhD and Robert Lue, PhD in collaboration with XVIVO, LLC and John Liebler, Lead Animator.
Made possible through the generous support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institution’s Undergraduate Science Education Program.

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