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National Youth Science Forum

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by Rob Thomas on 11 January 2012

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Transcript of National Youth Science Forum

To get a better idea of how these technologies work, we have to go back... further..... further still... little more, Okay, 15000bce 10000 7000 5000 3000 2000 1500 1000 500bce 0 500ce 1000 1500 1600 1700 1750 1800 1850 1900 1915 1930 1945 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2011 It's good to have friends in a hunter-gatherer society. Man's best friend First domesticated 30,000 – 7,000 bce
Breeding the most socialised dogs for future generations. Dogs were first used for hunting, as if a tool.
If a tool, then are they a technology?
We created them through selective breeding.
By doing so we changed their biology.
Are dogs therefore the first biotechnology? The Fertile Crescent Wheat
Bitter vetch
Flax Successful crop seeds were stored for future harvests, resulting in the breeding of more desirable traits. Farming required fixed pasture, resulting in the end of the nomadic life and the building of settlements. Improved crops through breeding led to increased food surplus, so no longer were whole communities dedicated to the collection of food.

More time could be spent on other endeavours, resulting in the specialisation of tasks.

With the end of nomadic life,
tasks became more complex. Bronze Age Smelting Though the combination of copper and tin, bronze proved a superior material for production of tools, replacing stone. With the development of alloys and metal working techniques such as forging and drawing, stronger materials could be developed.

The materials became stronger because they were being changed on a microscopic level.

This was the first materials science, and the first step towards nanotechnology. Biologists researching heredity begun to study genes in the early 20th century.

Physicists studying optics and electromagnetism led to the study of sub-atomic particles and nuclear physics.

In the 19th century electricity became an industry (electric lighting and the telegraph).

Clockwork expanded to become rotor technology, allowing the
development of complex electromechanical calculating
'computer devices' Now we skip ahead.... Fermentation techniques reached Europe by 3000 bce, resulting the development of beer.

Alongside bread it's one of
the first products made using
this biological process Despite our access to improved weapons and alcohol, humans
continued to
survive. Developments in the early 20th century

The expanding use of electricity in industry and communications lead to the adoption of radio, telephone and mass production. This new capacity for mass production had disastrous results in the Great War (1914-1918). The mass production of weapons and new weapons such as the machine gun and gas, clashed against the old military strategies. Other developments:

1917 - Karl Ereky coined the word "biotechnology" to describe a technology based on converting raw materials into a more useful product.

1928 - Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic properties of penicillin through fermentation. However it wasn't until the 1940s that it could be successfully mass-produced.

Throughout the late 19th century to the 1930s nuclear physicists discovered nuclear forces and sub-atomic particles such as the nucleus and the neutron. World War 2 (1939-1945) Faster moving units using improved ground transportation and air.

Co-ordination between these units was essential. Encryption Elsewhere in Biotechnology:

1944 - Oswald Avery demonstrated that DNA makes up genes (proving the importance of the structure in genetics).

1953 - James D. Watson and Francis Crick determined that the structure of DNA was a double helix.

In doing so they opened the field of
genetic engineering. While in nanotechnology: Dude, where's my jetpack? 2: Question time! Computing power will double every year (revised to every two years)

Gordon Moore, (founder of Intel)
Electronics Magazine,
19 April 1965 1980s biotechnology expanded into the pharmaceuticals industry.

In 1982 the US patent office issued the first patent on a gene.

By 1988 five drugs with proteins from genetically engineered cells had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Microchip technology allowed new technologies, shifting from mass communication.

1950s-1960s: Cinema, radio, television Synthetic biology

2008 a synthetic DNA chain containing 583,000 base pairs was developed.

2010 first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cell containing 1.08 million base pairs.

Next step is to develop a synthetic microbe.

Life forms designed to carry out a wide range of functions (consuming pollution, fighting viruses).

This represents the development of artificial life.

Artificial life doesn't occur in nature – therefore there is no case against patenting synthetic designs. Now, where were we? Bombe


Enigma Colossus Binary
Vacuum tube (1943) 000111010 0 = off
1 = on Run through a series of switches
0 and 1 can translate into the logic statements of AND, OR and NOT, statements which make the basics of computer programming. The more switches, the faster the computer runs the program. s Were used as the switches from the 1940s until the early 1960s. 1950s until the late Transistors replaced
vacuum tubes From 1958 - today Integrated Circuit of transistors
(the microchip) superseded transistors Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize winner in physics, on the Manhattan Project

Commission member for the Rodgers Report on the Challenger Disaster ‘I want to build a billion tiny factories… which are manufacturing simultaneously. . . The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of manoeuvring things atom by atom. It is not an attempt to violate any laws; it is something, in principle, that can be done; but in practice, it has not been done because we are too big.’

There's plenty of room at the bottom; December 29, 1959 While there have been plenty of
predictions about the development
of science But it seems that very few have
delivered on what was promised. (1951) The Orion Project Space propulsion project from 1950s-1960s

Using technology of that era, a spacecraft capable of 8%-10% light speed.

More durable than chemical rockets used in Apollo missions and cost approximately the same amount.

Plans for Moon, Mars, and Saturn missions, could reach Pluto within 1 year.
'Mars by 1965, Saturn by 1970' how? The bomb ejected on takeoff would have yielded 0.1 kiloton, ejection rate would have been one per second.

As the vehicle accelerated the rate would slow down and the yield increase until 20-kiloton bombs would be going off every ten seconds.

The Hiroshima Bomb was 15 kilotons and the largest atmospheric nuclear test was 50 megatons. Project Orion

For PR reasons, NASA did not want to engage itself in nuclear rocketry.

Although funded by the Air Force, the Orion Project had a difficult time proving any worthwhile military applications (ICBMs were more efficient weapons delivery systems).

The partial test ban treaty of 1963 effectively ended the project. Exemptions could be sought for peaceful projects, however Orion at the time was classified. "... the first time in modern history that a major expansion of human technology has been suppressed for political reasons”

Freeman Dyson – project member and advocate against nuclear weapons Greater computing power
means more switches on the chip. smaller means miniaturisation 2022: 11nm 1971-72: 10 microns– a tenth the width of a human hair (100-80 microns) 1975: 3 microns– half the width of a red blood cell (7 Microns) 1982: 1.5 microns 1974: Norio Taniguchi
Professor at Tokyo Science University

Used the term nanotechnology when describing microchip production processes at the nanoscale. 1985: 1 micron 1989-1990: 800nm 1994-1995: 600nm
(Visible spectrum of light (700-450nm) 1995-1996: 350nm (Nintendo 64) 1997-98: 250nm (Playstation 2) 1999-2000: 180nm 2000-2001: 130nm 2002-2003: 90nm 2007: 65nm
(Extra costs in production due to increasing leakage.) 2008: 45nm (Playstation 3 Slim) 2009-10: 32nm 2011: 22nm 2018: 16nm To personal communication:
1970s-1980s: Fax machine,
early mobile phone, early internet As this happened: In Biotechnology: In Nanotechnology: Scanning probe microscopy

Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (1981)
Atomic Force Microscope (1986)

Can scan with a resolution to fractions of a nanometre While observing atoms using this method it is also possible to exert force on the atoms and move them.

"manoeuvring things atom by atom" In Nanotechnology: Feynman - December 29,1959 September 28, 1989: Donald Eigler at IBM spelt I-B-M using 35 individual xenon atoms.
(world's smallest corporate logo) The 'Wright brothers flight' (or the Watson and Crick) of nanotechnology 'Top-down'
Quality issues
Consistency 'Bottom-up'
Timely By the end of the 1990s 125 genetically engineered drugs were approved by the FDA

In 1996 there were 18,695 US biotech patents, by 2002 there was 47,473

First commercially grown GE food became available in 1994

By 1998 it was estimated that 30% of US soybean, cotton and corn crops were using GM The Biotechnology Industry: Meanwhile: The Green Revolution In the 1940s Norman Borlaug, an agricultural scientist, working with the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, undertook research to boost Mexico’s wheat crop.

Using a mix of breeding, genetics and soil
science he doubled Mexico’s wheat output. In the 1960s India was on the brink
of mass famine.

Borlaug was invited to assist boost
its crop yeild. Borlaug planted a High-Yield Variety (HYV) of rice,
developed using breeding and molecular genetics technology of the time.

Combined with adequate irrigation, pesticides, and
fertilizers HYVs out-perform traditional varieties
of grains. 1960s - rice yields in India were about 1.8 tonnes per hectare.

1990s - risen to 5.4 tonnes per hectare.

India is now a major rice exporter (a cash crop).

It is calculated that India's use of high-yield farming prevented 100 million acres (400,000 km²) of virgin land from being converted into farmland. The process was repeated in the Philippines in the 1960s; in two decades annual rice production increased from 3.7 to 7.7 million tonnes.

The Philippines became a rice exporter for the first time. The Green Revolution

The use of HYV crops, and the industralisation of agriculture (irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers) had a substantial effect on boosting food production around the world from the 1960s onwards.

It is credited for
saving billions of
people from
starvation. Without inputs such as fertilisers, traditional crops may outperform HYVs.

The reliance on HYVs has produced a monoculture of food, reducing biodiversity and decreasing food security.

A less diverse diet leads to health problems such as vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition.

The use of industrial agricultural techniques has caused harm to the environment and humans.

The use of petroleum based chemicals has tied our food security to oil, a finite resource. Criticism 1: Question time! More Biotechnology: Recombinant DNA developed in 1972.

Artificial DNA that is created by combining two or more DNA sequences that would not normally occur together.

Led to the development of synthetic human insulin in 1978. Many scientists believe GM foods to be safe, however some researchers maintain that uncertainty about their long-term effects on people and the environment justifies extreme precaution.

Some supporters of GM foods agree that rigorous testing and research should continue but that in the meantime the benefits of GM crops in eliminating world hunger and malnutrition are too great to ignore.

However it is argued by anti-GM groups that alternatives to GM crop production have not been sufficiently researched, and in many countries where hunger is a problem the issue is government mismanagement and other factors which technology cannot resolve.

Other benefits to GM food include less need for herbicides and drought resistance crops, though these are yet to be realised. The debate on Genetically Modified Foods So... 3: Question time! So what else was happened? What can you patent? Typically a patent is for an invention – not a discovery
(ie something pre-existing in nature cannot be patented)

The US Patent Office (and most others) will recognise a patent on genetic material if it meets tests of novelty, non-obviousness, utility or industrial application. Issues: Biotech firms that have invested into researching and discovering useful genes need that investment protected.

This work must be protected otherwise there would be no benefit to spending the money on the research.

Patenting biological sequences raises concerns over owning life and parts of nature.

It can also hinder other researchers by limiting the access of other researches to these genes. The BRCA 1 & 2 genes Common indicator for breast cancer:

Women who have an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have up to an 85% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70.

Women who have an abnormal BRCA1 gene have a 55% risk of developing ovarian cancer or a 25% risk with BRCA2.

Discovered in 1994, patented in 1998. The ownership of BRCA 1 & 2 genes The US patent holder for the BRCA 1/2 gene had a protected monopoly on testing for this gene. In the US women have to pay up to $3700 to have the test done.

In Australia the company holding the licence to BRCA 1/2 did not exercise its right to exclusively test.

In 2003 and 2008 it attempted to enforce its ownership of the gene and on both occasions retracted due to PR backlash. The ownership of BRCA 1 & 2 genes March 29, 2010:
United States District Court:

“DNA's existence in an 'isolated' form alters neither this fundamental quality of DNA as it exists in the body nor the information it encodes. Therefore, the patents at issue directed to 'isolated DNA' containing sequences found in nature are unsustainable as a matter of law and are deemed unpatentable.”

The decision is being appealed. Why is this a big deal? The shift from centralised communication to networked communication
(from one to many to many to many) ‘…societies like the Soviet Union are faced with a fundamental dilemma. If they provide their engineers and professionals with advanced workstation technology, they open the floodgates to free communication by methods more powerful the ones they have traditionally banned. On the other hand, if they fail to do so, they will increasingly become an ineffectual third-rate power.’

The Age of Intelligent Machines, 1990, R. Kurzweil The control of information The control of information Government restrictions on internet access and repression of bloggers Suspension of internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile coverage The control of information Individuals can coordinate on a global level as never before 9/11: An international terrorist group with a
decentralised autonomous structure The control of information Nanotechnology Industry
Synthetic Biology Moore’s Law Nanoparticles

Objects on the nanoscale behave differently
More reactive (more surface area than volume)


Silver nanoparticles are antibacterial (used in odour-proof socks)
Zinc oxide and titanium oxide nanoparticles used in sunscreen to reflect ultraviolet light
Nanoparticles being developed to be used in solar panels, greater efficiency


Questions regarding ability to penetrate the skin, some may penetrate biological membranes or interfere with cell communication.
Longevity in the environment – dissolve or congregate? Current manufactured Nanotech Current manufactured Nanotech Buckyball (aka Fullerene or C-60)

Structure of Carbon atoms

Uses: Drug delivery systems

Issues: Varying levels of toxicity Current manufactured Nanotech Carbon Nanotubes
Super strong and light
(6300kg of tension on 1mm)
Can be conductive or non-conductive

Heavy industry, car parts, sports equipment
Electronics – chips (1nm wide)
Textiles and armour
The Space Elevator and Solar Sails

May cause asbestos like reaction in free form Metamaterials

Bulk materials that a structured on the nanoscale to behave in unique ways

Materials have been designed to absorb light from all directions (improved solar panels)
Structures that can bend radiation microchip (invisibility cloaks)

Issues: To early to tell Current manufactured Nanotech Synthetic biology

Genetic modification currently works with DNA that already exists in nature

Synthetic biology is the creation of new DNA chains from scratch

Next step in biotechnology

Early chemists worked with chemicals that occurred naturally, this developed to the production of new chemicals created artificially What's new in biotechnology? 4: Question time! Nano
Lighter more energy efficient materials
Catalysts and storage of hydrogen fuel
Cheap water filters for the third world
Vitamin enriched food with nanoparticles
Targeted drug delivery

Cleaning the environment with bioremediation
More abundant nutritious food requiring less fertilizer and water
More effective drugs and transplants
Biofuels or hydrogen generated cheaply via bioprocesses
Bioplastics (less petrochemicals) Nano
Nano-pollution in the environment
Cancer and other ill-effects on humans
Surveillance technology
Job losses in industry
Silver nano may result in stronger bacteria

Loss of biodiversity and food security
Ill effects on humans
Privatisation of nature
Ethical and moral issues (playing God) Potential Pros Potential Cons 5&6: Question time! The Future! Mihail (Mike) Roco of the US National Nanotechnology Initiative Programmable material It's all merging together. 7-9: Last Question! Future computing possibilities beyond 2022 and the 11nm barrier: Nanotechnology (carbon nanotube chips)
Biotechnology (DNA computing)
Quantum Physics (spintronics, quantum computing)

While it may be the end of Moore's Law, it is not the end of computers. The development of smarter machines is expected to continue. Nano medicines and food
Bio-engineering and synthetic organisms
Nanomachines and ITC
and more.... Universal Studios
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