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Invisible, Near-Weightless Nanotubes Could Support Humans, Buildings, Space Elevators

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In what sounds like the result of the lamest Truth or Dare party ever, scientists have calculated how many nanotubes it would take to support the weight of one human. The discovery unto itself isn't that impressive-a nanotube rope that's one centimeter in diameter could do the trick. But when you realize that the rope is absurdly lightweight and invisible, the prospect gets a lot more exciting.

You see, nanotubes separated by more than one wavelength (five micrometers) are invisible. And the one centimeter human-supporting rope mentioned above takes the five-micrometer principle into account. Imagine scaling such an idea to create a series of invisible ropes in architecture, a sort of flying buttress that you can't see.


But what's possibly even more amazing-that human-supporting rope weighs just 10 milligrams per kilometer. If the distance from the ground into space is 80km, that means that an 800 milligram rope could lift humans into space. 800 milligrams is less than the weight of three aspirin tablets.

Crazy, crazy stuff. [Springer via NewScientist]