You’ve definitely seen that episode of a sci-fi TV show where your favourite characters shrink down to the size of tiny microbes and enter the body of a supporting character to fix some kind of ailment. The episode usually consists of a quick tour of the human body and will require at least one character to make about about exiting that way.
It’s become such a trope in recent years that seeing the tiny 3D printed Star Trek vessel produced by physics researchers, I half expected to see the cast of Futurama waving from one of the little windows. Which is actually unfair because while popular media might have changed my perception of its creation it’s actually genuinely cool that folks managed to 3D print a microscopic USS Voyager that moves by itself!
Physicists at Leiden University over in the Netherlands have successfully created a teeny-tiny Star Trek ship that’s able to propel itself through liquids thanks to a chemical reaction between its titanium coating and the hydrogen peroxide solution it’s swimming through. The USS Voyager is only one small aspect of the team’s research which is looking into the production of microswimmers, a category of organisms that are able to maneuver through liquids without external forces.
Star Trekking through your system
Our bodies are flooded with microswimmers; white blood cells, red blood cells, even the bacteria in your salvia are all microswimmers. The Leiden University researchers were attempting create their own synthetic microswimmer that may potentially be used in some difficult medical treatments. Going back to that tired TV trope, one could theoretically use the 5 micrometer long USS Voyager to administer medical drugs or target hard to reach areas of the human body in order to do… stuff. I don’t know, I’m neither a doctor nor a scientist. I just write stuff, leave me alone.
I really like it when science fiction begins to blend together with reality, which is probably why I’m finding this experiment more interesting than most. Now we just need to develop a working shrink ray to get people onboard one of these vessels and we’re ready to Magic School Bus the Hell out of modern medicine.
(Source: The Verge)