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Biology Replaces Technology as Scientists Plan to Use Flagellar Pathways to Power Nano-Bots

Technology often aims to imitate biology. But sometimes engineers find that biology itself is a superior replacement for our best technology. This may increasingly be the case for nano-technology, as MSNBC reports that the “[f]lagellum could potentially provide locomotion … to send future nanobots or other tiny medical devices zooming around the human body.” According to the article, engineers have found that a useful mechanism for transporting ATP, an energy-molecule of biology, is found within the energy-transport system that runs along the cilia of sperm (cilia are also sometimes called flagella, as is the case in this MSNBC article). The article reports that there are plans to integrate other components from biology into nano-biomedical devices.

The integration of biology into human nano-technology raises an interesting hypothetical scenario: What if someday human nano-technology becomes so sophisticated that it can be integrated into an organism’s DNA, and becomes part of self-replicating systems of living organisms? (This would be akin to the Borg, of Star Trek fame.) Then suppose that humans die off, but later alien scientists discover human-designed nano-biotechnology existing freely inside of living organisms that are still left on Earth. Of course those nano-biotechnological systems did not evolve, they were designed. Should those alien scientists be prevented from making a design inference?

In any case, it seems that human-technology is now coming full circle: The first outboard motor was the bacterial flagellum, and then came the eukaryotic cilium. Sometime much later, humans came around and humans invented the outboard motor using rotary engines– before they had any knowledge of flagellar outboard rotary engines. Then humans discovered the biological flagellum and found that it has a strikingly similar design to the human outboard motor.

But now biomedical researchers are abandoning human technology, realizing that biological pathways are better suited for propelling human nano-technology than is human technology itself.

It seems clear to me that the paradigm of intelligent design will guide this kind of research much better than will a Darwinian paradigm.

If you’re a Darwinist whose head is now spinning, you might find it helpful to repeat the following statement from Francis Crick:

“Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”

“Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”

“Biologists must constantly keep in mind…”


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.