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July 26th, 2004

It's a small world

A hushed office in Building 8 at MIT stands at the cutting edge of small things. Newly minted PhD Tim Hanlon, 27, points to a device called the nano-indenter, and remarks, "Experiment after experiment, it never fails to amaze me . . . and I've been working here for 4 years." A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. For most of history, such minute distances, the scale where atoms lurk, have been invisible to humans, even though all activity in the physical world really begins there.


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