Saturday, February 5, 2011


I thought it was science fiction. I thought it was comic book stuff. I thought it was manifestly insane, but someone has done it. Popsci magazine reports that picoengineering was invented a week or two ago.
For the experiment, one of the electrons in a helium atom was replaced with a muon, which has a similar charge, but is much smaller. And then an interesting thing happened: The helium started acting, chemically, as hydrogen. This has many interesting implications.
For one, if this turns out to be inexpensive enough, you could substitute cheaper materials by bind away some of the electrons. Need thalium? You could substitute lead. Substitute Sulfur for Phosphorous.
Nanoengineering is the production of things ten to the minus nine power meters in size, a billionth of a meter, the size of atoms. Picoengineering is three times smaller than that, dealing with the internal components of the atoms themselves.

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