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Реферат Our modern technologOur modern technology builds on an ancient tradition. Molecular technology today, disassemblers. Existing protein machines. Designing with Protein. Second generation nanotechnology. Assemblers will bring one breakthrough of obvious and


Тип работы: Реферат. Предмет: Ин. языки. Добавлен: 21.12.2009. Сдан: 2009. Уникальность по antiplagiat.ru: --.

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Coal and diamonds, sand and computer chips, cancer and healthy tissue: throughout history, variations in the arrangement of atoms have distinguished the cheap from the cherished, the diseased from the healthy. Arranged one way, atoms make up soil, air, and water; arranged another, they make up ripe strawberries. Arranged one way, they make up homes and fresh air; arranged another, they make up ash and smoke.
Our ability to arrange atoms lies at the foundation of technology. We have come far in our atom arranging, from chipping flint for arrowheads to machining aluminum for spaceships. We take pride in our technology, with our lifesaving drugs and desktop computers. Yet our spacecraft are still crude, our computers are still stupid, and the molecules in our tissues still slide into disorder, first destroying health, then life itself. For all our advances in arranging atoms, we still use primitive methods. With our present technology, we are still forced to handle atoms in unruly herds. But the laws of nature leave plenty of room for progress, and the pressures of world competition are even now pushing us forward. For better or for worse, the greatest technological breakthrough in history is still to come.
Two Styles Of Technology

Our modern technology builds on an ancient tradition. Thirty thousand years ago, chipping flint was the high technology of the day. Our ancestors grasped stones containing trillions of trillions of atoms and removed chips containing billions of trillions of atoms to make their axheads; they made fine work with skills difficult to imitate today. They also made patterns on cave walls in France with sprayed paint, using their hands as stencils. Later they made pots by baking clay, then bronze by cooking rocks. They shaped bronze by pounding it. They made iron, then steel, and shaped it by heating, pounding, and removing chips. We now cook up pure ceramics and stronger steels, but we still shape them by pounding, chipping, and so forth. We cook up pure silicon, saw it into slices, and make patterns on its surface using tiny stencils and sprays of light. We call the products "chips" and we consider them exquisitely small, at least in comparison to axheads. Our microelectronic technology has managed to stuff machines as powerful as the room-sized computers of the early 1950s onto a few silicon chips in a pocket-sized computer. Engineers are now making ever smaller devices, slinging herds of atoms at a crystal surface to build up wires and components one tenth the width of a fine hair. These microcircuits may be small by the standards of flint chippers, but each transistor still holds trillions of atoms, and so-called "microcomputers" are still visible to the naked eye. By the standards of a newer, more powerful technology they will seem gargantuan. The ancient style of technology that led from flint chips to silicon chips handles atoms and molecules in bulk; call it bulk technology. The new technology will handle individual atoms and molecules with control and precision; call it molecular technology. It will change our world in more ways than we can imagine. Microcircuits have parts measured in micrometers - that is, in millionths of a meter - but molecules are measured in nanometers (a thousand times smaller). We can use the terms "nanotechnology" and "molecular technology" interchangeably to describe the new style of technology. The engineers of the new technology will build both nanocircuits and nanomachines.
Molecular Technology Today

One dictionary definition of a machine is "any system, usually of rigid bodies, formed and connected to alter, transmit, and direct applied forces in a predetermined manner to accomplish a specific objective, such as the performance of useful work." Molecular machines fit this definition quite well. To imagine these machines, one must first picture molecules. We can picture atoms as beads and molecules as clumps of beads, like a child's beads linked by snaps. In fact, chemists do sometimes visualize molecules by building models from plastic beads (some of which link in several directions, like the hubs in a Tinkertoy set). Atoms are rounded like beads, and although molecular bonds are not snaps, our picture at least captures the essential notion that bonds can be broken and reformed. If an atom were the size of a small marble, a fairly complex molecule would be the size of your fist. This makes a useful mental image, but atoms are really about 1/10,000 the size of bacteria, and bacteria are about 1/10,000 the size of mosquitoes. (An atomic nucleus, however, is about 1/100,000 the size of the atom itself; the difference between an atom and its nucleus is the difference between a fire and a nuclear reaction.) The things around us act as they do because of the way their molecules behave. Air holds neither its shape nor its volume because its molecules move freely, bumping and ricocheting through open space. Water molecules stick together as they move about, so water holds a constant volume as it changes shape. Copper holds its shape because its atoms stick together in regular patterns; we can bend it and hammer it because its atoms can slip over one another while remaining bound together. Glass shatters when we hammer it because its atoms separate before they slip. Rubber consists of networks of kinked molecules, like a tangle of springs. When stretched and released, its molecules straighten and then coil again. These simple molecular patterns make up passive substances. More complex patterns make up the active nanomachines of living cells. Biochemists already work with these machines, which are chiefly made of protein, the main engineering material of living cells. These molecular machines have relatively few atoms, and so they have lumpy surfaces, like objects made by gluing together a handful of small marbles. Also, many pairs of atoms are linked by bonds that can bend or rotate, and so protein machines are unusually flexible. But like all machines, they have parts of different shapes and sizes that do useful work. All machines use clumps of atoms as parts. Protein machines simply use very small clumps. Biochemists dream of designing and building such devices, but there are difficulties to be overcome. Engineers use beams of light to project patterns onto silicon chips, but chemists must build much more indirectly than that. When they combine molecules in various sequences, they have only limited control over how the molecules join. When biochemists need complex molecular machines, they still have to borrow them from cells. Nevertheless, advanced molecular machines will eventually let them build nanocircuits and nanomachines as easily and directly as engineers now build microcircuits or washing machines. Then progress will become swift and dramatic. Genetic engineers are already showing the way. Ordinarily, when chemists make molecular chains - called "polymers" - they dump molecules into a vessel where they bump and snap together haphazardly in a liquid. The resulting chains have varying lengths, and the molecules are strung together in no particular order. But in modern gene synthesis machines, genetic engineers build more orderly polymers - specific DNA molecules - by combining molecules in a particular order. These molecules are the nucleotides of DNA (the letters of the genetic alphabet) and genetic engineers don't dump them all in together. Instead, they direct the machine to add different nucleotides in a particular sequence to spell out a particular message. They first bond one kind of nucleotide to the chain ends, then wash away the leftover material and add chemicals to prepare the chain ends to bond the next nucleotide. They grow chains as they bond on nucleotides, one at a time, in a programmed sequence. They anchor the very first nucleotide in each chain to a solid surface to keep the chain from washing away with its chemical bathwater. In this way, they have a big clumsy machine in a cabinet assemble specific molecular structures from parts a hundred million times smaller than itself. But this blind assembly process accidentally omits nucleotides from some chains. The likelihood of mistakes grows as chains grow longer. Like workers discarding bad parts before assembling a car, genetic engineers reduce errors by discarding bad chains. Then, to join these short chains into working genes (typically thousands of nucleotides long), they turn to molecular machines found in bacteria. These protein machines, called restriction enzymes, "read" certain DNA sequences as "cut here." They read these genetic patterns by touch, by sticking to them, and they cut the chain by rearranging a few atoms. Other enzymes splice pieces together, reading matching parts as "glue here" - likewise "reading" chains by selective stickiness and splicing chains by rearranging a few atoms. By using gene machines to write, and restriction enzymes to cut and paste, genetic engineers can write and edit whatever DNA messages they choose. But by itself, DNA is a fairly worthless molecule. It is neither strong like Kevlar, nor colorful like a dye, nor active like an enzyme, yet it has something that industry is prepared to spend millions of dollars to use: the ability to direct molecular machines called ribosomes. In cells, molecular machines first transcribe DNA, copying its information to make RNA "tapes." Then, much as old numerically controlled machines shape metal based on instructions stored on tape, ribosomes build proteins based on instructions stored on RNA strands. And proteins are useful. Proteins, like DNA, resemble strings of lumpy beads. But unlike DNA, protein molecules fold up to form small objects able to do things. Some are enzymes, machines that build up and tear down molecules (and copy DNA, transcribe it, and build other proteins in the cycle of life). Other proteins are hormones, binding to yet other proteins to signal cells to change their behavior. Genetic engineers can produce these objects cheaply by directing the cheap and efficient molecular machinery inside living organisms to do the work. Whereas engineers running a chemical plant must work with vats of reacting chemicals (which often misarrange atoms and make noxious byproducts), engineers working with bacteria can make them absorb chemicals, carefully rearrange the atoms, and store a product or release it into the fluid around them. Genetic engineers have now programmed bacteria to make proteins ranging from human growth hormone to rennin, an enzyme used in making cheese. The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly (Indianapolis) is now marketing Humulin, human insulin molecules made by bacteria.

Existing Protein Machines

These protein hormones and enzymes selectively stick to other molecules. An enzyme changes its target's structure, then moves on; a hormone affects its target's behavior only so long as both remain stuck together. Enzymes and hormones can be described in mechanical terms, but their behavior is more often described in chemical terms. But other proteins serve basic mechanical functions. Some push and pull, some act as cords or struts, and parts of some molecules make excellent bearings. The machinery of muscle, for instance, has gangs of proteins that reach, grab a "rope" (also made of protein), pull it, then reach out again for a fresh grip; whenever you move, you use these machines. Amoebas and human cells move and change shape by using fibers and rods that act as molecular muscles and bones.
A reversible, variable-speed motor drives bacteria through water by turning a corkscrew-shaped propeller. If a hobbyist could build tiny cars around such motors, several billions of billions would fit in a pocket, and 150-lane freeways could be built through your finest capillaries. Simple molecular devices combine to form systems resembling industrial machines. In the 1950s engineers developed machine tools that cut metal under the control of a punched paper tape. A century and a half earlier, Joseph-Marie Jacquard had built a loom that wove complex patterns under the control of a chain of punched cards. Yet over three billion years before Jacquard, cells had developed the machinery of the ribosome. Ribosomes are proof that nanomachines built of protein and RNA can be programmed to build complex molecules. Then consider viruses. One kind, the T4 phage, acts like a spring-loaded syringe and looks like something out of an industrial parts catalog. It can stick to a bacterium, punch a hole, and inject viral DNA (yes, even bacteria suffer infections). Like a conqueror seizing factories to build more tanks, this DNA then directs the cell's machines to build more viral DNA and syringes. Like all organisms, these viruses exist because they are fairly stable and are good at getting copies of themselves made. Whether in cells or not, nanomachines obey the universal laws of nature. Ordinary chemical bonds hold their atoms together, and ordinary chemical reactions (guided by other nanomachines) assemble them. Protein molecules can even join to form machines without special help, driven only by thermal agitation and chemical forces. By mixing viral proteins (and the DNA they serve) in a test tube, molecular biologists have assembled working T4 viruses. This ability is surprising: imagine putting automotive parts in a large box, shaking it, and finding an assembled car when you look inside! Yet the T4 virus is but one of many self-assembling structures. Molecular biologists have taken the machinery of the ribosome apart into over fifty separate protein and RNA molecules, and then combined them in test tubes to form working ribosomes again. To see how this happens, imagine different T4 protein chains floating around in water. Each kind folds up to form a lump with distinctive bumps and hollows, covered by distinctive patterns of oiliness, wetness, and electric charge.
Picture them wandering and tumbling, jostled by the thermal vibrations of the surrounding water molecules. From time to time two bounce together, then bounce apart. Sometimes, though, two bounce together and fit, bumps in hollows, with sticky patches matching; they then pull together and stick. In this way protein adds to protein to make sections of the virus, and sections assemble to form the whole. Protein engineers will not need nanoarms and nanohands to assemble complex nanomachines. Still, tiny manipulators will be useful and they will be built. Just as today's engineers build machinery as complex as player pianos and robot arms from ordinary motors, bearings, and moving parts, so tomorrow's biochemists will be able to use protein molecules as motors, bearings, and moving parts to build robot arms which will themselves be able to handle individual molecules.
Designing with Protein

How far off is such an ability? Steps have been taken, but much work remains to be done. Biochemists have already mapped the structures of many proteins. With gene machines to help write DNA tapes, they can direct cells to build any protein they can design. But they still don't know how to design chains that will fold up to make proteins of the right shape and function. The forces that fold proteins are weak, and the number of plausible ways a protein might fold is astronomical, so designing a large protein from scratch isn't easy. The forces that stick proteins together to form complex machines are the same ones that fold the protein chains in the first place. The differing shapes and kinds of stickiness of amino acids - the lumpy molecular "beads" forming protein chains - make each protein chain fold up in a specific way to form an object of a particular shape. Biochemists have learned rules that suggest how an amino acid chain might fold, but the rules aren't very firm. Trying to predict how a chain will fold is like trying to work a jigsaw puzzle, but a puzzle with no pattern printed on its pieces to show when the fit is correct, and with pieces that seem to fit together about as well (or as badly) in many different ways, all but one of them wrong. False starts could consume many lifetimes, and a correct answer might not even be recognized. Biochemists using the best computer programs now available still cannot predict how a long, natural protein chain will actually fold, and some of them have despaired of designing protein molecules soon. Yet most biochemists work as scientists, not as engineers. They work at predicting how natural proteins will fold, not at designing proteins that will fold predictably. These tasks may sound similar, but they differ greatly: the first is a scientific challenge, the second is an engineering challenge. Why should natural proteins fold in a way that scientists will find easy to predict? All that nature requires is that they in fact fold correctly, not that they fold in a way obvious to people. Proteins could be designed from the start with the goal of making their folding more predictable. Carl Pabo, writing in the journal Nature, has suggested a design strategy based on this insight, and some biochemical engineers have designed and built short chains of a few dozen pieces that fold and nestle onto the surfaces of other molecules as planned. They have designed from scratch a protein with properties like those of melittin, a toxin in bee venom. They have modified existing enzymes, changing their behaviors in predictable ways. Our understanding of proteins is growing daily. In 1959, according to biologist Garrett Hardin, some geneticists called genetic engineering impossible; today, it is an industry. Biochemistry and computer-aided design are now exploding fields, and as Frederick Blattner wrote in the journal Science, "computer chess programs have already reached the level below the grand master. Perhaps the solution to the protein-folding problem is nearer than we think." William Rastetter of Genentech, writing in Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology asks, "How far off is de novo enzyme design and synthesis? Ten, fifteen years?" He answers, "Perhaps not that long." Forrest Carter of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Ari Aviram and Philip Seiden of IBM, Kevin Ulmer of Genex Corporation, and other researchers in university and industrial laboratories around the globe have already begun theoretical work and experiments aimed at developing molecular switches, memory devices, and other structures that could be incorporated into a protein-based computer. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has held two international workshops on molecular electronic devices, and a meeting sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation has recommended support for basic research aimed at developing molecular computers. Japan has reportedly begun a multimillion-dollar program aimed at developing self-assembling molecular motors and computers, and VLSI Research Inc., of San Jose, reports that "It looks like the race to bio-chips [another term for molecular electronic systems] has already started. NEC, Hitachi, Toshiba, Matsushita, Fujitsu, Sanyo-Denki and Sharp have commenced full-scale research efforts on bio-chips for bio-computers." Biochemists have other reasons to want to learn the art of protein design. New enzymes promise to perform dirty, expensive chemical processes more cheaply and cleanly, and novel proteins will offer a whole new spectrum of tools to biotechnologists. We are already on the road to protein engineering, and as Kevin Ulmer notes in the quote from Science that heads this chapter, this road leads "toward a more general capability for molecular engineering which would allow us to structure matter atom by atom."

Second-Generation Nanotechnology

Despite its versatility, protein has shortcomings as an engineering material. Protein machines quit when dried, freeze when chilled, and cook when heated. We do not build machines of flesh, hair, and gelatin; over the centuries, we have learned to use our hands of flesh and bone to build machines of wood, ceramic, steel, and plastic. We will do likewise in the future. We will use protein machines to build nanomachines of tougher stuff than protein. As nanotechnology moves beyond reliance on proteins, it will grow more ord и т.д.................

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