Teaching Nanotech to Swim

“One of the cultural icons of nanotechnology is the image of the surgical team from the 1966 science fiction movie, Fantastic Voyage, motoring along through the bloodstream of scientist Jan Benes. Everyone knows the image is about as closely related to real-life nanotechnology as Jurassic Park is to genomics-still, its hard to shake. The scene, and others like it have inspired a generation of researchers to pursue technologies that may one day deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to tumors or clot-busting machinery to the site of a blockage. To reach those ends, engineers need a way of moving tiny cargos through fluids-a task that turns out to be a bit more challenging when filmmakers yield the territory to the mathematical modelers. One new approach to nano-locomotion solves a longstanding problem in an ingeniously simple way.”