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it's pretty straight forward, how could a scientist such as a doctor, identify that nano-robots are the cause of some disease without knowing what it is looking for ?

It would somehow need to be by serendipity, either by a doctor studying a specific disease or another scientific field, as these robots are omnipresent but in a relatively small quantity (~100 ug/m3).

they would also be the cause of a rise of cancer mainly.

so to summarise:

  • they are everywhere, on earth, in every ecosystems
  • remained hidden for decades
  • 300-600 nanometers
  • made of carbon diamonoids
  • they can be found in any body tissues
  • in "small" concentration
  • are a cause of (but are not limited to) the rise in cancer in the population
  • they replicate themselves at a slow rate (still have to figurate a good one) by disassembling matter around them.

for the concentration it seems that I need much more present ton insure a detection chance.

The nanobots do not actually aim to cause cancer, what they effectively do is disassemble matter to replicate themselves. I was thinking that if they were on small quantities, acting relatively slowly, then it would cause a rise in cancer in the population as a result of our body having to heal itself constantly against it. it seems now a bit too naïve...

as their effect is not limited to humans, but can be seen as a primary factor of erosion, decline of biodiversity etc...

and because of these multiple sources, theoretically unrelated, be identified as a such.

Edit to clarify their behaviour, they literally just consume and replicate as they are a mistake.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please include more details: Size of the nanobots (true 'nano', i.e. 10^-9m -ish big?)? Material of the nanobots? What level of 'identification' would be needed (SEM-picture of the bots plus extensive scientific evidence of their actions? Merely knowing that the cause of the sickness is an agent that is not a chemical, not a virus and not a bacterium, but on the size-scale of viruses?)? Do they multiply themselves, or is some sort of factory producing and disseminating them? ---- History of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_mosaic_virus for reference of levels of proof $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Dec 10 '18 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much I'll look into this source. But yes I was thinking of scale of a small virus (~200-300 nano meters), principally made of carbon and hydrogens atoms. they would multiply themselves. For the identification, would having an idea of their atomic structure too unrealistic ? $\endgroup$
    – Lolobstant
    Dec 10 '18 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ When you say they are omnipresent, do you mean everywhere within the human population distribution, or, within one colonized human, they are found in all tissues of the body? If they are in all populations, but within one individual perhaps only in specific tissues, then they will likely be noticed by histotechs and pathologists as they stain and observe tissue biopsies submitted for diagnosis. $\endgroup$
    – N2ition
    Dec 10 '18 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ Please add all additional details emerging from answering to comments to the body of your question. Carbon and Hydrogen as in Carbohydrates, or as in carbon nanotubes and graphene and diamond etc? Makes a huge difference in detect-/identifiability. ----- Problem will be how to make the jump from 'these weird particles that i serendipidously discovered on a SEM, that seem to be everywhere (and not seen on old samples)' to 'these are cancer-causing nanobots' --- Do the bots DO anything apart from clandestinly causing cancer? Communicate? Build? Congregate? Self replicate? Mine? $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Dec 11 '18 at 8:15
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(~100 ug/m3).

That is orders of magnitudes more than viruses (learn why), and orders of magnitude less than bacteria (learn why).

Once a blood test gives a complete negative for bacteria, and given the absence of antibody markers for viruses in the blood serum, a doctor with access to an electron microscope will have the discovery of their life awaiting. No serendipity required.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much, I will look further on the steps in disease identification, and as you stated finally no serendipity required ! $\endgroup$
    – Lolobstant
    Dec 10 '18 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ So we have a rise in some sort of cancer (as we did, and as we do). We now do a blood test on the patients. No bacteria that are not present in genpop, no viruses, no special chemicals .... you do a gene assay on the patients vs genpop that is inconclusive. Usually you'll now look at lifestyle. nothing. You now (for some reason, why would anyone do this?) set a blood sample under the SEM (1ul = 10^-12m³ -> 10^-19g of nanite in that sample (or a 1/10^5 chance of having ONE in there (assuming diamond density))) - nothing. 10^10 nanites in on m³ is straining even serendipity. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Dec 11 '18 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ @bukwyrm - you would look at the tumor, not blood. Especially you would look at a tumor that was something new and a lot of people were getting; a nanite driven tumor would have a different natural history than known tumors. You can see HPV in warts or cancers and they are only about 60 nm. Finally you could do what they did 100 years ago (see Rous sarcoma virus) - grind up a tumor, filter it to different extents and inject experimental animals with the filtrate. The fraction with the nanites will cause cancer. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Dec 11 '18 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ A tumor is cells replicating without their usual control; Tumors start with one cell having its DNA altered by radiation, chemicals, viruses or bacteria, this cell then replicates like wildfire, creating clones of itself. The reason you can filter RSV from the tumor is because it uses this mechanism to replicate itself, thus also being present in huge numbers. A nanite having accidentally damaged DNA in one cell , and that cell replicating, creating a tumor, will look like a tumor from carcinogenic chemicals or radiation, and will not contain more nanites than the surround. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Dec 12 '18 at 7:21
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Many scientific findings were by mistake while searching for something else. Any regular analysis (Students checking a blood sample in a microscope) could identify a behavior that flags deeper investigation.

Adding to my answer: The actual behavior of the nano-robots will depend on how they were programmed (they are robots after all).

To the added questions:

  • they are everywhere, on earth, in every ecosystems

Perfect possible, matter is in constant change and this have energy use and energy "waste" (in form of heat for example) the nano-robots "feed" from that energy and therefore to survive they can even be considered catalysts for the changes. This would explain rust, erosion or any other declining of matter

  • remained hidden for decades

Because of their size, detection of the nano-robot itself is very hard, unless a really powerful and reliable microscope comes to play.

  • 300-600 nanometers

Check this link for sizing reference

  • made of carbon diamonoids

Interesting choice, present in every living organism and many other inorganic matter, there is a simple test for carbon presence that can narrow down where the nano-robots could possible appear

  • they can be found in any body tissues

Organic matter have carbon, that will cover that.

  • are a cause of (but are not limited to) the rise in cancer in the population

Nano-robots need to survive or do whatever they were programmed to do. That means if they need to alter the matter around them to be able to complete their task, this can include changing the RNA of living organisms (causing mutation - cancer). This is not their objectives (unless programmed otherwise) but a consequence.

  • they replicate themselves at a slow rate (still have to figurate a good one) by disassembling matter around them.

Replication can be similar to the virus pattern: link where I got the image from

Pathway to viral infection: In influenza virus infection, glycoproteins attach to a host epithelial cell. As a result, the virus is engulfed. RNA and proteins are made and assembled into new virions.

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  • $\begingroup$ OP needs to detail what the actual behaviour of the nanites is, but i agree with you, first will come a detection of their actions (something short term, not the cancer-causing), then someone investigating that might stumble upon the actor. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Dec 11 '18 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @bukwyrm added that to my answer, thanks $\endgroup$
    – Daniel
    Dec 12 '18 at 15:01
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First step would be checking that organic liquids can transmit the disease.

Then microfiltration would assess if the agent is a bacteria or smaller.

Once bacteria sized agents are excluded, searching for nucleic acids would assess if the vector is a virus or not.

Not finding nucleic acids the next candidate would be prions, but a search for proteins would return no results, pointing therefore to an additional unknown agent.

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    $\begingroup$ If it mainly causes some cancer, this would be a very long process, if it even works. Assuming these are not destroyed by the same protocols that are in place to ensure 'clean' bio-labwork (EtOH, UV-C, ...) the researchers would be constantly contaminating the experiment '(depending on the ubiquitousness of the nanites). Cancer-trials usually come from the other side: 'I have this pure substance X, and will now dilute it and feed it to mice, and have those non-X mice on hold to see the difference' - and even then, results are often inconclusive. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Dec 11 '18 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ This is similar to my original thinking process of how it would play out. Elimination of other possibilities. $\endgroup$ Dec 14 '18 at 4:47
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Your robots are spotted in a minute...

If nano-robots were everywhere and measure from 300 to 600 nm, they will be discovered in a matter of minutes and the link with human deseases would be instantenious !

I work on the micro-electronic field and the transistors I work on have layers of only 4 nm thick that I'm brought to study with various characterization tools (MEB, AFM, SIMS) very often.

Your nanorobots would be spotted almost instanteniously as we are already several hundreds of scientists using these tools only in my compagny !

If you want your "nano"-robots to be more discreet, you have to reduce their size so they are closer to the atomic level (Angström level) as it is more difficult to "see" something (but not impossible ! See below). In this case your robots would need to be made of something else than atoms...

enter image description here

Yes, what you see here are "atoms"... Link

Another solution would be to build your robots only with atoms that are difficult to spot with classical characterization tool : Hydrogen. This is the only atom that is still difficult to see... But again this is not impossible with such thing as TOF-SIMS : Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry. But I don't see how to build robots only with hydrogen... ! ^^

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much, it does help a lot, I do want these nano-robots to be discreat enough not to be spotted for decades, but to eventually be ^^'... as for the way to build them it is not directly a problem so this idea of having them only build with hydrogen atoms is really interesting. I do not want them to be made of something completely different though as it would make them virtually impossible to spot... $\endgroup$
    – Lolobstant
    Dec 12 '18 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ @lolobstant Unfortunately hydrogen atoms can be spotted with TOF-SIMS which is not so rare ! And hydrogen can only be covalently bonded to another hydrogen so your robots would be an H2 molecule... The only way to archeive your goal is in fact to set your story 10 years before the democratization of characterization tools such as the MEB ! $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '18 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ But how often do you see dust on your pieces? Dust is 'everywhere', but it is kept away from chip production for a good reason, and huge efforts are undertaken to not have stuff on there. Why would the nanites not be washed away as the dust is? $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Dec 12 '18 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @bukwyrm You're right, I never see "dust" with my MEB as these particles are too large (10-100 µm) for my scope and that there are drastic processes to avoid dust deposition. But we often see metal contaminants of several nanometers that we can't avoid. So I guess an "inteligent" robot of 600 nm would find ways to slip through the cleaning processes if their goal is to be omnipresent. Real dust particles can be easily removed as they are not strongly "bonded" to a surface but I suppose these robots would find a way to do so. $\endgroup$ Dec 12 '18 at 18:08
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The nano robots are dirty little robots. Hehe. Carrying some microbe or tetanus they are contaminated with from the lab they were created. Perhaps it is an imperfection in the thought-to-be-sterile materials. A nick or cut in the surface where microbes hide. There are detected though, because they are metal. Injected robots run by other robots, trying to understand how a human-being works.

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't address the question at all. They're not asking how nanites might infect someone with another disease, they're stating that the nanites are directly causing diseases, just like the flu virus directly causes the flu. The question is how to detect the nanites. $\endgroup$
    – Ghedipunk
    Dec 10 '18 at 18:56

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