..... Stumper Index
Stumper #15.
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How Good Is Your Science KQ?

[i.e. your Knowledge Quotient]

- What's The Tool? -

There is a tool that can be made of various materials, is sometimes very small, sometimes very large, and often in a range of sizes inbetween. Historians tell us that it was probably one of the first tools used by man and that its use extends back several thousand years B.C. Its parts include a rod or bar, a fulcrum, effort and force. So, what is this ancient and modern tool? Yes, of course it is the lever.

The lever is ancient but what about very modern tools? The following description is of a modern tool designed to accomplish very different tasks. Can you figure out what it is - and decide if the suggestion of how such a tool will be manufactured in the future is a real possibility or if I made it up?

In the manufacture of this modern tool a crystal is grown, sectioned very finely and etched using light. The entire manufacturing process is designed to result in a perfect, error-proof product. Over the past few years smaller and smaller versions of this tool have been developed which retain - even improve - its properties. But those who should know believe we are reaching the limit of the size reduction. This very small tool plays a large part in your life but you may never have seen it.
The first question is:
a) what is this tool and what technologies make use of it?

Because of the anticipated limit in size reduction of the tool whose name you have by now deduced, a tool to perform similar functions will in the future perhaps be manufactured using test-tube style chemistry - mixing chemicals in such a way that the tool will pretty much assemble itself. The new tool will exist at molecular and atomic levels using carbon instead of silicon and astonishingly will probably not be manufactured to be perfect.

The second question is:
b) Did we make this up or is this cutting-edge technology?

[Reference: Technology - MIT's Magazine of Innovation September-October 1999 Pages 93-96 ]



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