THE NANOTECHNOLOGY OF LIFE
by Richard Conrad, Ph.D. (Revised 11/6/11)
Our physical body is not just a skeleton, muscles, organs and nerves covered by a bag of form-fitting skin. Of course most of us know this but we tend to forget it. The molecular mechanisms of life hidden inside the bag, the biochemistry and biophysics, constitute the original and probably the ultimate nanotechnology. Most of what enables us to be alive, conscious and to function physically is completely invisible. An integrated structural, mechanical, chemical and electrical “biological nanotechnology” operates inside the body without our being aware of it, just as invisible and autonomous as a hidden computer program (which it essentially includes). This biological nanotechnology synthesizes molecules, sorts them, assembles them into structures, extracts energy from them, pumps ions, and sends and receives both chemical and electrical signals.
The molecules (DNA, RNA, enzymes, messenger cytokines, etc.) and nano- and micro-structures (membranes, ribosomes, mitochondria and cells) of life interact and communicate with each other in a dynamic and incredibly complex dance to maintain healthy function and balance. Almost all of the cells are alive (except for the red blood cells), and some of them actually crawl around to do their jobs as if they had a mind of their own (white blood cells, for example). The self-regulating (homeostasis) mechanisms of our magnificent inner micro-ecology can be thrown out of kilter by just a few molecules of a synthetic compound, such as a plasticizer that mimics a hormone. The thousands of chemical and electrical "monkey wrenches" in our modern environment are deteriorating our quality of life very significantly. We have evolved to be able to deal with most natural toxins and to stay in balance with the earth’s natural magnetic fields, but not to be able to handle synthetic chemicals nor the all-pervading radio-frequency smog that blankets us. We may be living longer, but cancer rates have reached 40%, and more and more of us are becoming disabled, or at least finding it harder to concentrate for long periods of time.
Biochemical malfunctions of the body sometimes occur only on the molecular scale and can be invisible to X-rays and to other types of scans. For some of these malfunctions there are currently no blood tests. Yet they can have a physical rather than psychological cause, and can be disabling.