When I was growing up, one of the local tv channels in Baltimore, after football season was over, devoted Sunday afternoons to running old movies. One of those films was Fantastic Voyage, a fairly slick 1966 sf film. The plot of the movie revolved around a submarine and its crew being shrunk to the point where they could be injected into a human vein with the mission of finding and dissolving a blood clot lodged in the brain of a scientist defecting from an unnamed Iron Curtain nation.
The plot and acting ranged from the thoroughly absurd to the god awful bad, but the special effects were top of the line for that period of film making (okay, the scene of Donald Pleasance’ villain being devoured by a white blood cell that looks more like slowly poured soap bubbles is a hoot and a half, but it worked . . . sort of.) The image that stays in the mind is of the sub just gliding through the blood steam.
Fantastic Voyage leapt up from the depths of my memories while I was reading "How to Build Nanotech Motors" , by Thomas E. Mallouk and Ayusman Sen and published in the May issue of Scientific American briefly reviews nanocar experiments and focuses on two problems with nanocars: (1) how to power them and (2) how to steer them. The article discusses progress made in developing "motors" to power the nanomobile and controlling its direction via the manipulation of magnetic fields.
Mallouk and Sen’s vision of the future of the nanocar is more one of nanotrucks, carrying cargoes of drugs to areas of the human body where no ordinary delivery system can reach. For example, anticancer medications could be carried directly to the site of the tumor and delivered without affecting the surrounding healthy cells, much as the crew of the sub reached their blood clot and dissolved it without damaging the other brain cells. This is one area of nanomedicine that I think everyone hopes will reach its full potential.
As for Fantastic Voyage, the producers and director of Independence Day are working on a remake, scheduled to come out in 2010. If its anything like the remake of Godzilla, do yourself a favour and watch the original.