M is for Micron

The atom used to be the iconic symbol of our world. Now it’s about going inside the atom to experience the world at the nanoscale, where everything is in motion. Because the aesthetic at the nanoscale is like sticking your head inside a pixel. In fact, if you use a scanning electron microscope, as did artists AE Lab, you can travel from 200 magnification to about 500 nanometers in real-time, so fast it’ll trigger a zooming sensation. And, since you’re watching quantum dynamic interactions occur at the molecular level, you’ll never see the same thing twice. This is the land of the infinitely small, it’s the burgeoning field of nanoart and what science has hailed as the next big thing. And whether it’s nanomedicine or self-assembly in material science, many of tomorrow’s advancements will happen at the phenomenon of scale. Even the architecture of the future will be one of making tiny moves. Dubbed micro-environmental design, the drive is to replace today’s single grid mentality where everything is networked together with systems that are democratic, allowing technologies to operate and connect independently so that spaces, for instance, don’t have to be determined by the same temperature, lighting or ventilation constraints, but rather offer micro-climatic conditions for a field of choice. One aim, in particular, being led by architect and engineer Michelle Addington, is the desire to control thermal behavior. Addington’s great hope is to allow energies to maintain their autonomous thermal boundary layers so that designers can completely control what’s going on in any surface, no matter what the material or circumstance so, for instance, a thin piece of glass can behave like a thick wall. In tomorrow’s lifestyles of the tiny, whether its micronutrients that are absorbed by copper bracelets or the hope of self-organizing nano-computers that can shapeshift on the fly, the key phrase is: Welcome to microworld, Na-Nu, Na-Nu.

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