Daily Prompt: Necessity is the Mother of Invention

More litter on the Common.

photo credit: BazzaDaRambler via flickr CC-BY-4.0

Pollution in the sky, ocean, and earth is prevalent. We breathe, eat and drink it in some many ways. Humans leave huge carbon footprints even when we make something that we consider “simple.” Just how many gallons of water is used in the production process of a single t-shirt (never mind a car)? Read this article to find out.

But there are even more causes: the simple and thoughtless act of littering, even in countries that we consider developed and first world, causes pollution in our oceans. It’s not for the want of a landfill or garbage receptacle that we litter. How hard is it to put garbage in its place, instead of five inches away or down a sewer/manhole? It’s attitude, and the disregard of the most basic of all civic responsibilities and environmental stewardship. We can’t just shut ourselves away in a bubble and let the garbage accumulate outside, because Mother Nature will sooner, rather than later, have her payback. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Water Pollution with Trash Disposal of Waste a...

photo credit: epSos.de via flickr CC-BY-4.0

Litter that doesn’t end up on our lawns often ends up in our waters. This pollution of our oceans with discarded waste like plastic and paper is deleterious to the natural life cycles of ocean and near-ocean dwelling citizens. As we saw on Happy Feet (which critics panned for turning an animated family movie into a statement about the environment), plastic pop bottle ring top holders can garrotte penguins and seals. But assuming that attitudes are harder to change than New Year’s resolutions are to keep, here’s my invention.

My invention (actually, enhancement) would be carbon-based nanobots designed and calibrated to specifically target and convert this inorganic kind of man-made litter into natural organic matter at an accelerated rate, but in three stages. The process must also not require an expensive infrastructure, nor be harmful to the living ecosystem. A containment area must first be delineated or “tagged”, and the nanobots subsequently deployed. For ocean or water-based deployment, nanobots may have to be treated to resist both pressures and alkalinity.

Just what we need…

photo credit: jurvetsonphoto via flickr CC-BY-4.0

The second stage is when the nanobots interact with their targets. Once it detects that the criteria for the proper shape, composition, and molecular structure criteria are all met, making the litter the objects of its programming, the nanobots would send back a message to the monitoring station confirming the presence of the offending objects, and request permission to proceed. The equivalent of asking, “Are you sure? There is no [Undo] button here.”

The third and final stage would be the actual conversion process. The nanobots are not to exceed the parameters of their original programming. Once they have completed their task, they are to turn themselves off (in the case of land deployment) or return to the surface for recollection (in the case of ocean deployment).

There are probably plenty of holes (and unstated assumptions) in it for real scientists to take a poke at, but that’s my proposed invention. Based on watching a handful of episodes (in both the Star Trek Next Generation and The Outer Limits universes that dealt with the subject matter of nanotechnology). 🙂


2 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Necessity is the Mother of Invention

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Necessity is the Mother of Invention | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  2. Pingback: And you wonder why there’s a budget crisis on . . . | Rob's Surf Report

Your comments are like chocolate for my soul ... I can never get enough of them! Bonus brownie points for witty comments! I love a good turn of phrase. :)

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