04 October 2005


This animated nanotech gallery
is the first I've seen
that even attempts to show the effects
of ordinary thermal vibrations
on the nano scale

but I think it lies, still
because each atom's vibration is shown
as if it's locked in crystalline diamond

but the only thing locking it
is its bonds to its neighbors

and since these are springy
the system as a whole will be
wavy as a slinky

ring-shapes will bounce back and forth
between wider and narrower diameter

waves will propagate around their rim
so that tight fits to neighboring 'gears'
will be impossible

if one atom in a ring is hit wrong, so it twists
that twist will propagate around the ring as well

and this is the dynamic world we'll soon see, inside cells

balled threads of amino acids
springing not wildly but in naturally engineered directions

with atp-molecules latching into specific sites
and blasting off their phosphate tip, when triggered,
the blast propagating across the springy ball
and doing useful work somewhere nearby

(to practice getting the picture right
think of a tiny clump of water molecules
falling weightless, spinning slightly
near freezing, molecules clinging not-quite-tight

and realise the vibrations echo
from end to end, and around the flattening rim
until they achieve symmetry
and that geometry demands
the symmetry be sixfold

and that new molecules joining the cluster
add random new vibes
that also settle into sixfold symmetry
jostling every other point on the surface
until all are mirror-matched

a snowflake)