Nature does it differently

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Nature in its smallest scales (molecular biology) does not use cog-and gear nanomechanics like advanced APM (gem-gum technology) does (/will).

Not uncommon beliefs are:

  • "Advanced productive nanosystems must look similar to molecular biology."
  • "If advanced APM with hard nanomachinery where possible nature/evolution would have done it."
  • "The results of evolution show that advanced APM is not possible."
  • "There are no cogs and gears in cells so artificial systems can't have them either."

Or more specific with mention of thermal motion:

  • "Restraining instead of using thermal motion is refusal to learn from nature." "It shows inability to accept reality."
  • "Since molecular biology uses diffusion transport to do work, factory style transport does not work at the nanoscale."
  • "One must use thermal motion to transport nano-stuff."

But all these these are deeply flawed.

To give a crude analogy this is similar to saying: "We must learn from nature thus planes must look like birds."
The core flaw here is the assumption that: "Natures solutions cannot be exceeded thus we must imitate nature pretty closely." or short "Biomimetism is compulsory."

Technology can, has and will still continue to exceed specific performance aspects of natures solutions

Technology already has shown countless of times that it can go where evolution couldn't. (There are many examples. See: Nature vs technology)

There simply was/is no continuous path of small incremental steps towards this kind of technology that molecular biology could have followed. It takes humans to do this (See: Diffusion transport; Friction).

Learning from nature the right way – from far below its surface

Yes, we need to learn from nature. In the end everything we ever have known and will know originally came from nature in some way or another.

But the things we need to learn from nature sometimes do not lie on her surface (too superficial). These things often lie much deeper (fundamental physical principles).

Especially for far term goals it turns out that following natures examples superficially is not sensible. For the far term goal of gem-gum nanofactories lots of natures high level examples need to be shunned. So much in fact that one ends up at systems that are very different from natural ones.

Even natures example of its utilization of thermal diffusion transport turns out to be too superficial. Restraining instead of biomimetically utilizing thermal motion is probably the most obvious difference that pops up when learning from nature at a deeper level.

Supression of thermal motion can raise other deeper level concerns beside the vague notion of exceeding natures high level examples. These are discussed on the common misconceptions page.

Using soft nanomachines does not mean NOT aiming for hard nanomachines!

The perhaps more promising paths towards advanced APM is incemental.

Since this approach has significant overlap with soft nanomachinery, people trying to advance APM in this incremental-path-direction are sometimes faced with comments like:
"But look while claiming cog-and-gear nanomachinery is possible what you actually do is soft nanomachinery."

This overlooks:

  • that it seems to be a good strategy to be: "Using soft nanomachines to the fullest to get away from them ASAP."
  • that if we where already at the goal of hard nanomachinery we wouldn't need to get there.

The fact that biomimetism is a good starting point does not mean that it is a good far term goal. It's just a starting point that is probably easier than the direct path for now.

Veering away – The first signs where soft nanomachines slowly start to "harden"

Recent developments (2017) in structural DNA nanotechnology show clear signs of veering away into the direction of stiff linkages (and nano-robotic cogs and gears). Exactly the direction that has received and still receives such harsh criticism from people working in similar fields.

Molecular biology is not a feasibility proof for advanced APM - There are others that are.

Molecular biology does not provide a feasibility proof for the advanced "end" of APM. (It does proof the existence of a starting point for development though.)

This is not a problem. There's no need for a proof of the possibility of advanced APM from molecular biology since there are others like e.g.:

Developments in the direct path while not showing great progress (as of 2017) do clearly show the feasibility of siliconoid mechanosynthesis (which is not too different from diamondoid mechanosynthesis where complementary theoretical analysis has been performed.)


TODO move this to scaling laws page

  • "Makro scale style machinery is not suitable for nano scale devices at all."

Reasons why this is wrong:
KSRM 6.3.7 Macroscale-Inspired Machinery Will Not Work at the Nanoscale