PETER MENZEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PETER MENZEL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Molecular bearing. Computer scientist Ralph Merkle models a molecular bearing designed on computer. Merkle is head of Computational Nanotechnology at Xerox Parc (Palo Alto Research Center) in California, USA. Using desktop simulations he builds tiny machines atom by atom, such as this frictionless bearing, which would be too small to see even with the world's most powerful microscope. Although still on the frontiers of science, nanotechnology could one day lead to a host of revolutionary miniature inventions, such as microscopic "nanorobots" that patrol the human body in search of cancer tumours. Photographed in 1995.
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