September 26, 2012

Doctor Who: For The Love Of Nanobots

For all the “Doctor Who” fans out there (and my 8-year-old son and I watch it religiously), you might have noticed that nanobots played an important role in the Season 7 premiere “Asylum of the Daleks,” which aired Sept. 1.

In this episode, the little buggers convert anything — living or dead — to evil Daleks by removing all the love until only hate remains, which in the Whovian world is the very definition of a Dalek.

It’s all kind of too unscientific for me, since as yet no “love particle” has been identified. Yes, I know, suspend your disbelief for science fiction and just enter and enjoy their world, and I usually have no trouble doing that for “Doctor Who,” but I think in this case they used nanotech a little too loose and free.

A better nanobot episode appeared Season 1 of the Doctor Who reboot back in 2005. In “The Empty Child,” alien nanobots that were supposed to heal wounds and save lives get loose in London during The Blitz in World War II. Not knowing what humans are supposed to look like, the ‘bots use a child in a gas mask as a template, “healing” the wounded by rearranging their faces into gas-mask shapes.

Now, that’s a scenario I can believe! It also plays into the idea that nanotech (and technology in general) is morally neutral. It only does exactly what it is programmed to do.

Image Credit: BBC Television

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