My Kingdom for a Microscope

| | If this guy were tiny, would he be less ridiculous-looking?|

In honor of Make-It-Tinier Week at PopSci.com (see "Flies Staying Fly with Microengineering"), I wanted to point out the timely awesomeness of a recent piece of New Yorker fiction. In his short story "In the Reign of Harad IV," author Steven Millhauser gives us a fairytale take on nanotech through the eyes of a courtesan who crafts miniature versions of his king's castle and gardens. The maker of miniatures grows obsessed with creating ever-smaller versions of the kingdom until they're not only invisible to the naked eye, but no longer visible with the help of any magnifying instruments either. In short, his quest to make molecule-size replicas of the royal ostriches drives him to madness, and he ends up tinkering with air. Let that be a lesson to all you wacky engineers out there. —Megan Miller

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