robots. What do we love more than ordinary robots? Spider robots. But what do we love even more than spider robots? There's only one obvious answer: molecular robot-like spiders. The BBC has just reported on such research from Columbia University by Dr. Milan Stojanovic, a professor of biochemistry. Dr. Stojanovic and his team have built what they call a "molecular spider" that has four legs, each of which are made up of 10nm strands of DNA. The spider, once let loose in a solution of molecular-sized grass, acts as a miniature lawnmower when it releases an enzyme catalyst that cuts the tiny blades. But Dr. Stojanovic isn't stopping there -- he says that he plans to build a microscopic arena for dueling spiders to go at it: "We could have a simple predator-prey system in which one of them would try to cleave the legs of the other." However, the Beeb had to go and get a practical answer from him, explaining that "insulin could be steadily released from the surface of a tablet: if the spiders were sensitive to blood glucose, they could be automatically activated or halted according to the diabetic patient's immediate needs." That's useful, but BOR-ING! Dr. Stojanovic, let us know when we can start betting on molecular spider gladiator fights, ok?
[Thanks, Chris W., illustration courtesy of the BBC]