29 September, 2020

Buy Me A Carbon Ring

What's possible in science is interesting. More fascinating is what's not.

R. Prasad
Buy Me A Carbon Ring
The breathtaking advance of technology is best summed up by Moore's law. Back in 1965 Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, bravely predicted that computing power would double every 18 months; exponential growth means that every fifteen years computers become a thousand times more powerful. And indeed, today the Maruti 800 is controlled by a chip far more sophisticated than the computers that guided the first spacecraft to the moon. Amazing as this is, technologically we are merely scratching the surface of what's physically possible. In 1959, the physicist Richard Feynman brilliantly realised that—because we do not encounter new laws of physics until we get to smaller than the atomic scale, we could in principle control materials down to the size of the very atoms.

This ability to manipulate atoms individually will lead to staggering advances. For example, both diamonds and the lead in your pencil are made of carbon atoms; the vast difference between these two materials comes from how the carbon atoms are arranged. By rearranging atoms, it...


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