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There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom: An Invitation to Enter a New Field of Physics

Feynman, Richard P. (2012) There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom: An Invitation to Enter a New Field of Physics. In: Handbook of Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology. CRC Press , Boca Raton, FL, pp. 3-12. ISBN 9781628706840.

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I imagine experimental physicists must often look with envy at men like Kamerlingh Onnes, who discovered a field like low temperature, which seems to be bottomless and in which one can go down and down. Such a man is then a leader and has some temporary monopoly in a scientific adventure. Percy Bridgman, in designing a way to obtain higher pressures, opened up another new field and was able to move into it and to lead us all along. The development of ever-higher vacuum was a continuing development of the same kind. I would like to describe a field in which little has been done but in which an enormous amount can be done in principle. This field is not quite the same as the others in that it will not tell us much of fundamental physics (in the sense of "what are the strange particles?"); but it is more like solid-state physics in the sense that it might tell us much of great interest about the strange phenomena that occur in complex situations. Furthermore, a point that is most important is that it would have an enormous number of technical applications. What I want to talk about is the problem of manipulating and controlling things on a small scale. As soon as I mention this, people tell me about miniaturization, and how far it has progressed today. They tell me about electric motors that are the size of the nail on your small finger. And there is a device on the market, they tell me, by which you can write the Lord's Prayer on the head of a pin. But that's nothing; that's the most primitive, halting step in the direction I intend to discuss. It is a staggeringly small world that is below. In the year 2000, when they look back at this age, they will wonder why it was not until the year 1960 that anybody began seriously to move in this direction.

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Additional Information:© 2012 CRC Press. This transcript of the classic talk that Richard Feynman gave on December 29, 1959, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was first published in the February 1960 issue (Volume XXIII, No. 5, pp. 22-36) of Caltech's Engineering and Science, which owns the copyright. It has been made available on the web at with their kind permission.
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ID Code:53057
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Dec 2014 23:38
Last Modified:19 Dec 2014 23:38

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