smoke holds hands.

Long, Stretchy Carbon Nanotubes
Currently, the Cambridge team can make about 1 gram of the new carbon material per day, which can stretch to 18 miles in length. "The key thing is that the process essentially makes carbon into smoke, but because the smoke particles are long thin nanotubes, they entangle and hold hands," Windle said. "We are actually making elastic smoke, which we can then wind up into a fiber."

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19 Responses:

  1. wyndebreaker says:

    I work with carbon nanotubes at my job.

    Here is a picture I took last month.

    That's grass on the left, carbon nanotubes on the right.

  2. gwynjudd says:

    Keep in mind, 18 miles isn't going to wrap around anyone's planet so don't go getting excited yet

  3. gnat23 says:

    I, for one, welcome...uh, Diamond Age.

    • With respect to Mr. Stephenson, diamond is entirely the wrong allotrope.

      • In the novel, diamond was used for macroscopic structures that needed to be light but rigid. I think the point was that nanotech assembly made diamond cheap, not that diamond is particularly nanotechnological.

        I'd agree that the awesomeness of the nanotech age will be better represented by nanotubules (or something else we don't even know about yet). On the other hand, The Carbon Nanotube Age just doesn't sound as awesomesteampunk.

        • That's poor research if that's what he said diamond was being used for. Diamond isn't particularly light, and its toughness varies by orders of magnitude depending on angle relative to the crystal lattice. By the time you were done playing whatever nanotechnical games necessary to make it useful to build stuff out of, it would hardly be diamond anymore, and presumably would be called something else.

          The poetic license argument pretty much carries the day, though.

          • Well, don't put the blame on Mr. Stephenson until we see if anyone shows up and sets me straight. Normally the lack of someone correcting me couldn't be taken as proof that I was correct -- people might have just seen me being an idiot and not bothered to point it out -- but I don't think that's much of a concern in this venue.

        • pavel_lishin says:

          "The Smoke Age"? Well, I guess you could argue that that was during the industrial revolution.

          And no way am I going to live in the "holding-hands age". I had enough of that on elementary school field trips.

  4. ciphergoth says:

    The space elevator has many, many unsolved problems. The aerovator is way cooler!

  5. gwynjudd says:

    also why do we need a space elevator? What advantages does it have over a linear accelerator? Besides the whole "coming down" bit.

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