It is difficult for us to fathom the scale of the universe. The differences between the smallest structures and the largest are so enormous that linear scales are useless. We need exponential scales, which make the numbers appear to be easy, even when the geometry is simply incomprehensible. A simple example can demonstrate these size differences – there are more atoms in a glass of water than there are glasses of water in all the oceans combined. (If you don’t believe it, here is the math.)

On an exponential scale in meters, humans are located at the midpoint between the nanometer scale (1×10−9 m) (a strand of DNA is 3 nanometers thick) and the scale of stars ( the sun is 1.4 ×109 m in diameter.) Reaching “down”, what we try to do in nanotechnology, is just as difficult as reaching “up,” exploring the solar system with our probes. But, the journey is only beginning.

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A solitary man of sixty-five years or more, alone in a Gothic cathedral or a Paris apartment, need fret himself little about a few illusions more or less. He should have learned his lesson fifty years earlier, the times had long passed when a student could stop before chaos or order, he had no choice but to march with his world.
Nevertheless, he could not pretend that his mind felt flattered by this scientific outlook.

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Throughout the 20th century, this question has been a focal point for psychologists, philosophers, and social scientists. Depending on one’s answer, very different philosophical paradigms emerge. After a century of dialogue and reflection, we begin to realize how difficult it is to separate the subject from the world. There is no clearly delineated boundary between inside and outside, between subjectivity and the objective world.

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