Friday, January 8, 2010

2020

Nature looks forward to 2020. Two entries focus on the 100 trillion microbes that you live with. There's also Peter Norvig on search, Jeffrey Sachs on global governance (Glenn Beck alert), Thomas Baer and Nicholas Bigelow on lasers and desktop accelerators, and George Church on synthetic biology:
The obvious application will be in manufacturing and delivering drugs more efficiently. However, these treatments might be superseded by smarter ones, such as oral vaccines and 'programmable' personal stem cells or bacteria (which exploit sensors, logic and actuators harvested from natural and lab evolution) that could, for example, sense a nearby tumour, coordinate an attack and drill into the cancer cells to release toxins. Another application is in the production of chemicals, biofuels and foods — for example, the development of parasite-resistant crops or photosynthetic organisms that can double their biomass in just three hours.