As the ship weaves its way through the nucleus over the next few hours, you witness a stunning array of raw materials and finished products shuttling along microtubule tracks to and from the many assembly plants in the outer regions of the larger and encompassing cell factory. It becomes apparent that the machines all around the ship are not only almost incalculably numerous but also fantastically various. There are molecular machines to haul cargo along molecular tracks. There are molecular cables, molecular ropes, molecular pulleys. There are light-powered machines that harness particles of light and store them in molecular batteries, machines to flip cellular switches, machines to send electrical current through nerves, machines to build other machines (and themselves), machines to swim, machines to copy, machines to ingest and digest. In every direction you look, you discover
some new miracle of rare device, nanotechnology light years beyond anything humans have yet achieved.
In the next century scientists began amassing evidence of just how complex even the simplest life is, with even one-celled organisms emerging as microminiaturized factories of unparalleled sophistication. What had seemed like something that the blind forces of nature might easily throw together—the first one-celled organism— now looked, for all the world, like the handiwork of a master engineer.