If you were to deconstruct a human body into its most basic ingredients, you’d get a little tank each of oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. There would be piddling piles of carbon, calcium, and salt. You’d squint at pinches of sulfur, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium, and tiny dots of 20 or so other chemical elements. Total street value: not much.
With its own version of what scientists call nanoengineering, nature transforms these inexpensive, abundant, and inanimate ingredients into self-generating, self- perpetuating, self-repairing, self aware creatures that walk, wiggle, swim, sniff, see, think, and even dream. Total value: immeasurable.
— Interagency Working Group on Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology (via bagofpie)