Science has enabled tiny things to do amazing jobs. For example, in the article on the Thousand Year Certificates of Deposit, I calculated the ultimate value of a $1,000 1,000 year CD with 3% interest compounded annually by multiplying $1,000 x (1.03 to the 999th power). I did it with a 3" x 6" x .75" Casio fx-115s Scientific Calculator with a wonderful "X to the Y Power" function and scientific notation yielding results in powers of 10.
That is amazing, isn't it?
But such technology really does have its "dark side."
We really have reached the point where we have bug-sized flying spy machines, like the Scarab in Raymond Z. Gallun's 1936 short story of the same name, able to enter terrorist hideouts -- and homes -- and spy upon events there.
And, we have arrived at the Era of the Nanites.
Nanites -- robots the size of large molecules or somewhat larger, have already entered the stream of commerce around us. There are problems with robot theory. For example, what is referred to as Brownian Motion -- natural molecular vibration -- already places a limit on robot size. If a nanite were to be too small, it would shake too much to be useful. (Theoretically, if a nanite were made to be too small and too simple, it might become an uncollapsed, invisible quantum probability cloud!) But, for example, we already have windows covered with nanites engaged in keeping the windows clean!
Physicians are afraid of nanotechnology, in another way: If self-replicating nanites were to enter a human body, would the body's immune system recognize them as a non-organic threat? Or, instead, would it sit by, idle and stupid, while nanites designed to enter and attach to human bodies and replicate and further infect human bodies until an infected person's body turns into a pile of nanite garbage, do their work and kill a nanite-infected victim?
Which brings us to an amazing topic -- Morgellons Disease.
Several years ago, a really odd item hit the news: People in certain locales were developing a medical condition caused by no identifiable germ in which they would suffer from persistent skin lesions, red, white and blue body hair, and a persistent, utterly maddening sensation of bugs crawling under their skin, biting and stinging them.
Some derisively referred to the disease as "delusional parasitosis." In other words, "The people complaining about this alleged disease are simply nuts."
But, today, the web is full of photos of the skin lesions and accompanying bizarre red, white and blue hairs.
And, to this day, no one has found a microorganism which can be blamed for the condition.
The strange sickness generated its own urban-legend-level explanation: Morgellons Diease is a biological warfare experiment by an intelligence agency contractor using nanites. The utterly-disabling lesions and maddening sensation of bugs crawling, stinging and biting under the skin, intended to disable soldiers of invading armies, are caused by molecule-sized robotic entities released into the atmosphere by Air Force planes flying over locales where the disease has appeared. The red, white and blue body hairs caused by the disease are intended as a joke taunting the enemy with a the concept, "Uncle Sam did this to you."
Is the urban legend analysis wrong?
I don't know. Those red, white and blue hairs are awfully strange!