Our inevitable incorporation into the gray goo
inches ever closer today, as researchers in Japan have developed a chemical brain that can control up to eight nanomachines -- and one day could control thousands. The "brain" is actually a ring of 17 duroquinone molecules, which together measure just two nanometers across. Each molecule can be rotated to four different positions, controlled by the state of the center molecule. In tests, researchers were able to simultaneously control eight nanomachines using the brain, compelling them to dock and undock from the brain. The structure of the brain also means up to 4 billion possible configurations can be switched simply by manipulating one molecule, which may eventually give rise to computing applications -- but those are limited for now, since issuing instructions involves the use of scanning tunnel microscopy. That's a relief -- gray was never really our color anyway.