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Radical Abundance by K. Eric Drexler

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CHAPTER 5

The Look and Feel of the Nanoscale World

IT’S HARD TO UNDERSTAND how molecules interact when they’re illustrated in so many different ways, sometimes as blobs or clouds of dots, sometimes as ball-and-stick models, sometimes as skeletal, structural diagrams, and sometimes as images in the popular press jumbled together with pictures of microbes and machines ten thousand times larger. Without context, these different pictures can easily lead to confusion. To get a clear view of the nature of APM systems, it will help to start with a more coherent view of the nanoscale world.

In the molecular sciences, researchers often describe molecules in familiar, mechanical terms, as small moving objects with size, shape, and stiffness. Although some ...

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