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[Opinion] Blood Vessel Cleaning

Posted May. 18, 2005 23:23,   


The sci-fi movie "I, Robot" was the topic of conversation for a while last year. It depicts the world in 2035 when humans live with the help of robots. Robots cook and take care of their masters’ children. Along with humanoids appear nano-robots. Being one-billionth of a meter, the microscopic nano-robots are implanted in the "brains" of abnormally giant robots to incapacitate their systems. The movie was a success in Korea, too, attracting 1.7 million viewers.

It is because of these nano-robots that renowned American scientist Ray Kurzweil asserted that the days of immortal humans are nearing in his book “Fantastic Voyage-Live Long Enough to Live Forever.” He predicted that nano-robots smaller than white blood cells will be developed in 20 years to bring about an epochal transformation in medicine. Numerous nano-robots will travel in blood vessels to treat cancer cells or malignant viruses and transport necessary medicine to the wounds.

The National Science & Technology Council issued a report a few days ago, stating that a movie-like state-of-the-art science technology era will soon be realized in Korea. It predicts that a disease-free and longevity era will exist after 20 years and that space travel will become an everyday thing. In particular, the development of blood vessel-cleaning nano-robots and the possibility of cultivating organs by using one`s own stem cells have grabbed the attention. If these are realized, blood vessel-related diseases might be wiped out from the category of diseases. Yet, how are we going to wait until then? The magazine Shindonga`s June edition made a special feature on the causes, symptoms, and preventive methods of hyperlipidemia, which is known as "faceless homicide mania."

It has been mankind`s long-lived dream to live long without aging. Thanks to the progress of science technology and medicine, this dream is materializing. The average life expectancy of our country has also increased from 35 in the 1930s to 77 as of 2002. Nevertheless, is extending life necessarily a bliss? What does the highest seniority suicide rate among the OECD members tell us? If you think about how you are going to live, the forecast of an era of longevity is not all that delightful to everyone.

Song Dae-geun, Editorial writer, dksong@donga.com