Northwestern University professor Fraser Stoddart was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his contribution to building atomic-sized motors or molecular machines, a breakthrough in nano technology.
Few people appreciate or understand what's up with that, but I came across a more detailed and comprehensible explanation than what's found in many news reports. Ryan Cooper preforms this magic in a piece in The Week called "Why organic chemistry is awesome." I'm not saying that it's easily understood, but it helps explain why Stoddart's work is so important and why he and his fellow researchers so richly deserve this award.
Here's a sample:
This area of study is concerned with building up molecules that have the kinds of mechanical features you'd see on regular, life-size machines — think lifts, axles, and motors. These machines are fantastically tiny, often a mere dozen or so atoms across. By way of comparison, even a small protein in a living cell is about 10 times that size.
So, how did these researchers create such tiny machines?
Here's a video.
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