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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How about some good news for a change?

As the world disintegrates around us, as wars and rumors of wars abound, as the pollution of the air, water, and ground continues, as the police hunker down and protect only their own, as terrorist states obtain nuclear weapons, as the national debt soars into the realm of blatant insanity, as our schools and colleges churn out opinionated asinine imbeciles in their moronic millions, as the most outrageous lies are pronounced holy and the plain and naked truth is pronounced blasphemy—(this writer pauses for a moment, takes a breath, and a sip of coffee)—you might wonder is there good news anywhere? Is there a ray of sunlight anywhere in all this doom and gloom?

Herbert Hoover was our president just before the Great Depression. You know what he said? This is a good one folks...he said: "Prosperity is just around the corner!" You see, Herbert Hoover the eternal optimist, looked at a bad situation getting worse and took the view that bad times happen—of course they happen—but this too shall pass. Good times are a coming. Weather the storm. Hunker down and ride it out. Wait for the good which is on its way. I like optimists. I also like clowns. And dwarfs. Wait...are we allowed to say dwarf anymore? I know we can't say midget. What about the word "pygmy?" You know what? This whole freedom of speech topic actually belongs in the previous paragraph, the one where I briefly mention all the myriad reasons why America is totally screwed.

Good News! That's what we need. Americans need a reason to believe that their lives—or at least the lives of their children—will somehow, miraculously, take a turn for the better. We need a ray of hope, and guess what? there is a ray of hope.

The battle to maintain our civilization—and in our turn improve upon it—can be likened to a war, or a game, or a race. A contest, if you will. The winner of the contest receives either perfect shining cities on the hill—perhaps Utopia itself, or the winner receives a return to the barbarity he so craves and to the survival of the most brutal of which he is such a perfect example.

I apologize. You had to read through a lot of doom and gloom to get to his moment. The moment when I reveal—for a change—the good news. Is this news life changing? It could be. Is it transformative? Maybe. The naysayers among you will yawn and regret the loss of a few moments wasted. The visionaries among you will perhaps grasp what this game changer means. The age of the nanobot has arrived! In this example it's a tiny little robot that swims through polluted water, absorbing the lead out of that water and then this miraculous microscopic robot swims back to its owner so that it can be cleaned and reused!
[An] international team of researchers has developed a school of tiny microbots, each smaller than the width of a human hair, which is capable of removing lead particles from contaminated water more efficiently than previously developed methods.

The robots are shaped like tiny tubes, in three layers. Graphene oxide on the outside absorbs lead particles from the water. The middle layer is nickel, which allows external control of the robots using a magnetic field. The inner layer is platinum, which gives the robots self propulsion by adding hydrogen peroxide to the water. This interacts with the platinum, which decomposes the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, propelling the microbot forwards.

The team writes in their paper, published in the journal Nano Letters, that a swarm of the microbots can reduce the amount of lead in water from 1,000 parts per billion to just 50 parts per billion, a reduction of 95 percent, in just 60 minutes.

Obviously this is dependent on the amount of water and number of microbots, but what makes it even more impressive is that the robots can be reused. The same magnetic field that controls the microbots can be used to retrieve them. They can then be cleaned and used again.

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