Commercial Record

Blue Star

By Scott Sullivan
Sporting News
There are geeks who bite heads off live chickens and ones who fix your computer, then tell you next time simply upload the ethernet SSD Bluetooth to the URL GUI until you glaze over and want to kill them.
Worse yet were the eight teams taking part in Nanocar Race II March 24-25 in Toulouse, France. Each fielded “cars” — complex molecules, actually — on a 4- to 6-nanometer course consisting of zigzag lines on a gold surface. Each was propelled by electric pulses generated from tips of scanning tunneling microscopes.
Picture the excitement as the winning 97-atom molecule entered by a Tsukuba, Japan team streaked one micron (1 millionth of a meter) in 24 hours. And you thought baseball games were riveting.
Nanocar races don’t happen every day. This was the first since the 2017 inaugural. It’s not easy developing flat molecules with a dipole moment (an uneven electrical charge due to its bonds) which moves when you bring the STM tip near it due to repulsive interaction. Same reason folks don’t hurry to get remarried. Also, the track surface must be maintained at 5 Kelvin or -268° C in a vacuum.
Who comes up with this stuff? I wondered. I called my IT geek for an answer, but he was so amped from the race he needed a chill pill even colder.
“How can I watch the next nanocar race?” I asked.
“May not be for another five years,” he answered.
“Never too soon to get fired up. I already have my cooler and a foam rubber ‘We’re No. 1’ finger, never mind which finger it is. Will they show it in slo-mo?”
“A micron in 24 hours?” he asked.
It’s hard keeping pace with how glacially we advance. And if we do it is mostly backwards.
I learned as a kid we were in the Space Age; by the time we grew up we’d zip around like The Jetsons. Before then Bronze, Iron. Industrial and Atomic Ages; then Digital or Whatever Comes Next. Meanwhile generations devolve from Lost to Greatest to Boomers to X, Y, Z so fast if you blink you will miss the latest trend attached to Nothing.
“Who’s Kelvin?” I asked my tech geek. “The theologian who held all events are willed by God hence the notion of human free will is an illusion, or the cartoon kid with an imaginary tiger?”
“Neither,” he scolded. “Wrong spelling also. The Right Honourable Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) was a British mathematician whose thermodynamic studies of absolute temperatures — for instance, zero equals -273.53 C° or -459.67 F° — prompted peers to name a new measurement unit in his honor.”
“Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin … Isn’t one hard enough?” I asked.
“You’re the word guy,” the IT geek answered. “You use terms like bamboozle to obfuscate when being straightforward is too threatening.”
“How apothegmatic of you to note that.”
“People who specialize in fields, like me with computer codes, use their own terms to bond and cut out who they fear might be interlopers. It’s as old as the Tower of Babel.”
“You can thank The Lord for that,” he went on. “Genesis 11:1-9 describes the whole world having just one language. People built a city with a tower that would reach to the heavens hoping that way they’d make a name for themselves and not be scattered all over.”
“Sounds promising.”
“Not to God. ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them,’ Genesis quotes Him saying.”
“Did they get God on camera?”
“This was pre-YouTube,” he said. “Pre- pretty much anything. ‘Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other,’” Genesis quotes God saying. “So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because the Lord confused the language of the whole world.’”
“Nice service,” I said.
“We’re supposed to serve Him.”
“I’m married,” I said. “I serve Her. How does a tech geek know so much about the Bible?”
“Just because you specialize in one thing doesn’t mean you can’t others. Let me tell you about my grandkids …”
“Haven’t I suffered enough?”
“Wait, there’s more! You know the debate about standard vs. quantum models of physics?”
“I fight it in my head daily,” I confessed.
“The new loop quantum gravity theory may resolve it by eliminating time entirely.”
“Time doesn’t exist? When did that start?”
“If true it didn’t. Nor can it end.”
“I’d say I’m the world’s greatest skeptic, but I doubt it,” I answered. “Time not existing is as deep as the Tower of Babel, except inverted.”
“Help, Jane!” we cried together. “Stop this crazy thing!”

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