When one builds a magnified model of a human hair with a diameter matching the width of a soccer field then the model atoms inside this model hair have a diameter matching the diameter of a real human hair.
- 1 How to get an intuitive feel for how big things of the micro- and nanocosmos really are?
- 2 Numbers
- 3 There's limited space at the bottom
- 4 The other way – shrinking – in comparison
- 5 Further the same way – Nuclei
- 6 Notes
How to get an intuitive feel for how big things of the micro- and nanocosmos really are?
It's not easy to get some intuitive feeling for the size of all those things that are hidden away in the micro- and nanoscale. The things there, we can only see through the narrow keyholes of microscopes (optical or other) allowing us only to see a few things of similar size at a time with no direct relation to things which's size we really intuitively understand.
So what can be done to change that?
Let's build a theme-park!
A theme-park about the microscale and nanoscale world where everything is magnified.
- Name: Magnification Wonderworld
- Slogan: Magnificent and Magical
Away from the ocular or screen we are not bound to observe through the narrow keyholes of microscopes and can see things of vastly different size at the same time. Getting a good feeling for the smaller things by walking up to them.
Thee can only be one magnification factor
The really really important part when setting up this theme-park is that there needs to be chosen one and only one single magnification factor that is then consistently and strictly adhered to. If that rule is broken the development of an intuitive feel will be disrupted.
Since we can only choose this single magnification once its really important to get the best one at the first try. The one that is best for developing an intuitive feeling.
But which magnification factor is the best one?
The ideal magnification factor
Let's try the usual ball and stick models of molecules where the model atoms are about the size of marbles (~1cm). The problem here is that even the smallest things of our everyday experience become unfathomably big at this magnification factor. A model of a human hair e.g. would have a diameter of a mountain (~5km) at this scale. So we can scratch this magnification factor. It is way too large.
Next let's try a magnification factor that blows up the human hair to a much smaller size that is more intuitively graspable. The width of a soccer field (~50m). At this magnification factor model atoms become the size of a unmagnified real hair (~0.1mm). This is already in the range of intuitive graspability. So – jackpot – we have our magnification factor.
It's x500.000 or 500.000:1.
This will be used throughout this wiki.
We have an intuitive handle both on the macroscale and on the nanoscale side. Both at the same time. And the theme-park-setting allows to see everything at once. No brachiation from looking keyhole to looking keyhole leaving intuitive understanding in the dust.
Chosen magnification factor: x500.000 or 500.000:1
Atoms are quite small but they are not as ridiculously small as people usually say. If a hair (0.1mm) would be the width of a soccer field (~60m) an atom would be roughly the size of a hair.
Carbon is about 0.2nm or 2Å in size that makes roughly five atoms per nanometer (thumb rule).
From the perspective of the described theme-park the finiteness of space in the nanoscale becomes better ascertainable.
When hierarchically building up building structures one can quickly fill up this size gap between atom size and hair size. It only takes four convergent assembly steps to get from 1nm up to 1mm when a step-size of 32 is chosen.
The combinatoric explosion of atom arrangement possibilities quickly gets beyond mind boggling though.
The other way – shrinking – in comparison
Going the same "distance" in the opposite direction one gets the earth only down to the size of a soccer-field. Trying to get an intuitive feeling beyond the size of earth (interplanetary size scales) is barely possible (via travel times). Trying to get an intuitive feeling beyond the size of our solar-system is utterly hopeless. Forget about intergalactic gaps.
Relative distances in the other (astronomic) direction are vastly greater. If the planetary orbit of our outermost planet Neptune (which can technically be reached in years) where the size of a hair the nearest stars would lie beyond ~1km and the Milky Way would be ~1000km thick at our location. The next galaxies would start at the diameter of our sun ~1000000km then still follows the unimaginable size of intergalactic voids, the observable universe and the universe extrapolated to our "now" of which we now little by now.
Further the same way – Nuclei
Nuclei cannot be brought to an intuitively graspable magnification level like atoms. One needs to apply about the same magnification factor a second time to get the nuclei to a fraction of a millimeter (~0.5mm for a lone proton). At that points atoms become the size of a soccer field and a human hairs gets a diameter matching the size of earth.
Luckily there's no need for an intuitive understanding of the size of nuclei. They only react with one another in statistical ways in nuclear reactors. They do not form extensive molecules or crystals (Unless in a neutron star maybe..).
In normal chemistry nuclei float always well separated from another in the center of their host atoms electron cloud only interacting weakly magnetically with one another. Application of controlled mechanical forces (squeezing atoms together mechanosynthetically) cannot ever bring them together close enough for them to react with one another.
Nuclei are just of not of much direct relevance to the the naked core of advanced APM.
- Current day analytic methods involving the usage of nuclear properties (like e.g. MRT, ...) are likely to play some role in the path to advanced APM.
- Some applications of advanced APT will be used for interaction with nucleons (See: "APM and nuclear technology").
- VR/AR theme-park?
- biological examples & APM related examples