Thursday, January 03, 2008

A New Use For Sperm

A tiny assembly line that powers the whip-like tail of sperm could be harnessed to send future nanobots or other tiny medical devices zooming around the human body, according to a preliminary research report.

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To be biologically compatible, these hypothetical devices would need to be formed not from tiny springs and nuts and bolts but from biomedical components. “At that scale, biology provides the best functional motors,” said Alexander Travis, an assistant professor of reproductive biology at Cornell University’s Baker Institute for Animal Health. “But how do you power these kinds of structures?”

One potential answer has come from the tail, or flagellum, that propels human sperm at a rate of about 7 inches per hour. (In comparison, if a 6-foot man swam the equivalent number of body lengths in an hour, his tally of 3.7 miles would smash the American long-distance swimming record.)

More details here


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