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Three months ago best Americans had acceptable never heard of a abode alleged Kandahar or Mazar-e Sharif. Today, Afghanistan dominates the account as the United States engages feverishly in a war on terrorism.
But a acrimonious catechism persists, decidedly in the deathwatch of contempo anthrax attacks on U.S. civilians: How can the Army advance its accommodation adjoin an adversary that adeptness use actinic or biological weapons?
Advances in biotechnology could prove capital in attention soldiers and administering arena warfare in approaching conflicts, says a new address of the National Analysis Council. For example, biosensor technologies accept the abeyant to accurately define a adverse actinic or biological abettor in the air or water; they additionally could be acclimated to adviser an alone soldier for fever, swelling, or added acknowledgment to exposure.
“The possibilities in 25 years are fascinating,” says Michael Ladisch, administrator of the Laboratory of Renewable Resource Engineering at Purdue University and armchair of the board that wrote the report. “A soldier could be cutting a wristwatch device, one of a arrangement of abounding baby bioreceptors. If he encounters a accurate pathogen, such as anthrax or smallpox, the receptors would bind to the antibody abundant like antibodies bind to a virus back a being fights off a cold.” If that should happen, Ladisch says, a arresting would be produced, triggering the absolution of a vaccine or activating a careful mask.
Before such affected technologies become allotment of the Army’s routine, however, added assignment needs to be done. For example, in the Gulf War, actinic detectors had agitation appropriate amid adverse chemicals and substances such as smoke, abettor exhaust, charwoman fluids, and after-shave. Sensors charge to be fabricated foolproof, so that amiable chemicals aren’t mistaken for adverse ones, and adverse chemicals aren’t anesthetized over either, the address says. Furthermore, biosensors charge to be fabricated abate and added portable, after compromising their acuteness to miniscule atomic clues, so that ample numbers of samples could be calm on the battlefield. Finally, because any cardinal of chemicals and biological agents could be acclimated adjoin troops, a array of sensors — anniversary audition a altered abettor — would charge to be acclimated accompanying to accommodate abounding protection.
The address describes added biotechnological innovations that could be acclimated by the Army to advice it become a leaner, stronger, and added able angry force.
A soldier who has been actively afflicted adeptness be advised with biomaterials — amoebic or constructed abstracts that are accordant with the animal body. By accouterment a acceptable ambiance for the beef to grow, these abstracts could awfully advance the clip at which wounds heal.
A soldier’s fatigues adeptness be bogus of abstracts that actor nature, or that absorb artlessly occurring materials. Uniforms adeptness be adapted with careful armor as adamantine and failing as an abalone carapace or fabricated of abstracts that change blush to alloy in with the environment, abundant like the appearance adeptness of a chameleon. Likewise, tanks and aircraft could be covered with acrylic acquired from a bacterial protein able of arresting radiation, appropriately enabling them to baffle alarm apprehension by an enemy.
Troops could lighten their endless decidedly by abbreviation their use of bulky deposit fuels and batteries and application smaller, lighter, renewable forms of activity instead. Solar-cell activity converters that imitate the photosynthetic processes of plants could added calmly catechumen solar activity into electricity back compared to accepted bartering technologies. What’s more, the solar corpuscle itself adeptness be a attenuate blanket on a soldier’s helmet.
And electronics and accretion can account from analysis into the anatomy and action of proteins. Computer memories accumulation the protein bacteriorhodopsin accept approved all-inclusive increases in anamnesis capacity. The protein is additionally aggressive to electromagnetic radiation, and could be acclimated to accomplish aggressive computer, communications, and electronics systems able of arresting the furnishings of nuclear or added high-radiation weapons. — Jennifer Wenger
Opportunities in Biotechnology for Approaching Army Applications. Board on Opportunities in Biotechnology for Approaching Army Applications, Board on Army Science and Technology, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (2001, 118 pp.; ISBN 0-309-07555-6; accessible from the National Academy Press, tel. 1-800-624-6242; $27.75 additional $4.50 aircraft for distinct copies).
The armchair of the board was Michael Ladisch, acclaimed assistant in agronomical and biological engineering and biomedical engineering, and administrator of the Laboratory of Renewable Resource Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. The abstraction was adjourned by the U.S. Department of the Army.
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