Google. You know it as the tech giant with the colorful logo, the cute mascot and the creepy, privacy-invading ad tracking scheme. It seems like Google spends most of its time cataloging world wonders on Street View, building weird new Lego-like smartphones and designing those fun "doodles" for its home page.
The reality is Google has a lot of plates spinning, including Android, YouTube, Fiber, search, research and development and much, much more. The most intriguing? Immortality.
Google X is a quasi-secret division of Google whose only mission is to invent crazy, brilliant, science-fiction technology that others might consider impossible. Its projects are called "moonshots." It sounds like something out of the latest Marvel comics movie, but it's real.
Already Google X is responsible for Google Glass, smart contact lenses, a free global Wi-Fi network of balloons and much more. The latest moonshot we're hearing about is new magnetic nanotechnology that could eradicate all disease, including cancer.
Imagine swallowing a pill that contained thousands of tiny nanoparticles. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. They'd be one thousandth the width of a red blood cell. These nanoparticles would be magnetic, and could bind to cancerous or diseased cells. The Verge has more:
The idea behind using nanoparticles to catch cancer and other illnesses is pretty simple. Cancer cells often express proteins or sugars not found on healthy cells; a nanoparticle with a coating that binds cancer-only cells could be a useful tool for diagnosing the disease. There are two barriers here: the first is our knowledge of cancer-specific proteins or sugars; the second is finding out what coatings they would bind to.
This would be just the first step - one that Google says it's ready to take in about five years. But Google's ultimate goal is to actually end cancer and disease once and for all. Andrew Conrad is the head of Google X's Life Sciences division. At a conference held by the Wall Street Journal called WSJD Live, he laid out the ultimate goal:
"We're trying to stave off death by preventing disease," Conrad said on stage at WSJD Live. "Fundamentally, our foe is death. Our foe is unnecessary death. Because we have the technology to intervene, and we should expend more energy and effort on it."
What do you think? Can Google beat death? We know that technology has always played an important role in health. Click here to get an app that brings you 24/7 professional care from the Mayo Clinic.