Do you dislike cutting your lawn as much as I do? In part it’s the time and effort involved, but in part it’s the smelly, noisy, internal combustion engine that drives the mower. I do it as infrequently as possible without annoying the neighbors too much or violating any ordinances, but am always thinking about alternatives that would need no attention at all. I have wondered if, in a couple of decades or so, nanotechnology might provide some new answers to my problems. Remember that tomorrow’s great ideas usually sound fantastic (crazy) to us today, but the first to make them real could live very comfortably thereafter. (Is this a part of the American dream that has faded from our collective consciousness?) As a result of my daydreams, I came up with the following ideas:
A genetically altered grass might not grow past a certain height and could need little or no fertilizer. How could my current grass be genetically modified, though? Perhaps a virus could be sprayed on it that was engineered to infect the grass and genetically modify it to grow thicker and shorter. For safety purposes the genetic modification could make it incapable of seeding, or so that no seeds would be fertile, so it couldn’t spread once modified.
Alternatively, perhaps I could set up little perimeter wires to delineate the edges of my lawn and spray it with nanobots that would only work within those confines. Their function would be to climb the stalks of grass for a certain distance and then start nibbling, perhaps, living on the natural sugars in the grass they ate. They wouldn’t be able to go very far, would be unable to survive the winter, and would have no way to reproduce, so I would have to re-apply them annually.
That gives me pause to think of what else grows longer than one would like … how about one’s hair? The hair salon could sell and apply nanobots that would climb up and down your hair, be programmed to stay on a single hair and keep it a preset length as it continued to grow. Then, when you wanted to change hair styles, a quick electromagnetic pulse at the hair salon (or maybe just a hot dryer) could deactivate the little machines, and a new bunch could be programmed and applied with a brush, changing the lengths of different parts of your hair to create a new style. That sounds great for me, too, as I long ago tired of shaving. The thought of never having to shave again sounds great.
I can also foresee makers of all types of brushes using nanobots to precisely set the length of bristles. Perhaps, given the right programming and medium, nanobots could build bristles from free molecules floating in the medium they are immersed in. Applied to other materials, could nanobots construct crystals by precisely arranging molecules in predetermined ways? What new materials might be created? I will leave that up to the chemists and materials scientists while I daydream about getting rid of that fossil fuel eating, toxic gas-belching lawnmower.
As always, I welcome your comments. – Tim