Thursday, July 3, 2008

Origin of life: Does the uncertainty principle rule out nanotechnology?

Mike Gene, "a controversial and respected voice in the debate on Intelligent Design"*, notes in The Design Matrix that the machinery inside the cells of our bodies shows that quantum physics does not rule out nanotechnology, as skeptics have sometimes claimed:
"Every proposed advance in technology is met with skepticism. Skeptics once claimed that nanotechnology was doomed to failure because such small machines are unworkable. The problem, they often cited, was quantum physics. In quantum physics, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that particles cannot be located in any exact position for any length of time. Essentially, matter becomes too fuzzy at such small scales and machines can only function efficiently without fuzz. The nanotechnologistst responded that the skeptics' interpretation of the Uncertainty Principle was mistaken. More importantly, the nanotechnologists pointed to the existence of machines already at work inside the cell. They pointed out that since machines already exist inside the cell, the skeptic's argument is plainly refuted. " (p. 104)
And he adds,
In the words of Rita Colwell, the director of the National Science Foundation, 'Life is nanotechnology that works.' (P. 105)
* from the book jacket. And no, I don't know who he is either, and if I did I wouldn't tell you. See the Expelled movie if you need to know why.