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Visualizing nanotechnology in context

It’s hard for us macroscale beings to get a gut feel for the extreme size differences between, say, ourselves and nanoscale objects. The old “Powers of Ten” illustrations helped, but now there’s a new online version from Nikon called Universcale, which shows from 1026 to 10-15 meters.

One billionth is such an unimaginable, unrealistic smallness. What can this size be likened to? The ratio of the earth (1 meter) to a one yen coin (1 nanometer) is a commonly used example. Regardless, thanks to the microscope and in-depth probing, we have mastered the art of altering atomic configurations at will, manipulating, controlling, and generating them.

A cheery sentiment but overstated. It’s okay (perhaps better) to ignore the text and just zoom around by clicking — more than once, or for a long time, to trigger the zooming — on the orders of magnitude numbers at the bottom of the screen. Watch for the diamond, buckyball, and nanotube. (Credit: GMSV) —Christine

3 Responses to “Visualizing nanotechnology in context”

  1. Martin G. Smith Says:

    Christine – While there are the inevitable biases and leaps in the presentaion, it received a unversal WAY COOL, from the band of knowledge seekers.
    I suggest that anything which provokes thought is a good thing, it is incumbent on us to makle sure any errors are corrected.

  2. Carl Batt Says:

    Well unfortunately while it is slick and comprehensive in range it fails victim to the trap of not paying attention to details. There are graphics that show atomic features and others that don’t. Notice the representation of protein next to the quantum dot. In one I see atoms (and the structure for the quantum dot is all wrong). For the protein it is some kind of odd ribbon like representation. So to the intelligensia we overlook these, to the less advised…..well

  3. Miron's Weblog Says:

    Nano and lightyears in context

    Check out this interactive “powers-of-ten” flash presentation from Nikon. Good for some perspective…
    Make sure your browser is full screen or you may miss the controls at the bottom.
    Hat tip to Nanodot.

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