Weekly Folding update

Welcome back to the Folding update. Most people who read TR are probably aware of who The Borg are. For the rest of you, the Borg are a race of cyborgs in the Star Trek franchise who use "nanite" microscopic machines to change the cellular makeup of other races, making them Borg too. Sounds far-fetched, doesn't it? After all, it is science fiction. Well, it's not that far-fetched, and we Folders are contributing to it. So read on; resistance is futile. But first, the weekly links and stats.

So what is nanotechnology? Dictionary.com defines it as "The science and technology of building electronic circuits and devices from single atoms and molecules." Basically, microscopic machines. So what could these machines do? In theory, they would be able to enter living cells to fight disease and repair damaged cells. Some researchers also think that it might be possible to use nanomachines to rearrange atoms, thus constructing new objects. So if I have a pile of old rags in the middle of an area hit by famine, nanomachines might be used to turn that pile of rags into a pile of food. Now obviously, that Utopian idea is decades away, but it's a very pleasant though, isn't it?

The technology for nanomachines is still years away. Scientists and engineers still are in the first steps of the process that will hopefully lead to the ability to build nanomachines. But let's assume for a second that eventually, nanomachines will be a reality. What then? We have this really cool technology, what do we do with it? That's where Folding comes in. If we can figure out how proteins fold, and how that folding helps lead to diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's, we can program nanomachines to reverse the process. Basically, we can program the nanomachines to cure these diseases.

For more detailed reading on nanotechnology, try here, here and here.

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