Here’s a 20-minute segment film of an episode of the BBC documentary series Horizon called Humans v2.0, featuring Ray Kurzweil:
[See the whole episode at Google Video]
About one-and-a-half minutes into the clip, the narrator says that “he [Kurzweil] believes that our understanding of the human brain will soon be complete.”
Although this is not a direct quote from Kurzweil himself, he does actually believe this. It is true that advances in our understanding of the brain are coming thick and fast. But I’m certain pretty sure that we’ll never fully understand the brain, and think that Kurzweil’s claim is utterly ridiculous.
Last year, a team of chemists led by Ludwig Bartels of the University of California, Riverside, designed a molecule that can “walk” in a straight line across a flat surface. Now, they have devised a way for the walking molecule to pick up and release cargo. The molecule carrier is anthroquinone (C14H8O2), an organic compound used widely in industry to turn cellulose from wood into paper.
This film clip shows an anthroquinone molecule carrying two molecules of carbon dioxide across a copper surface:
According to Bartels, “this is an unprecedented step forward towards the realization of molecular-scale machinery…[which] will become as important to the molecular machinery of the future as trucks and conveyor belts are for factories of today.” In other words, the work takes us one step closer to molecular manufacturing.
Bartels and his colleagues now plan on designing a molecule that can turn corners and rotate its cargo or emit photons so that its position can be determined.