The Age of Miracle Chips

New microtechnology will transform society

It is tiny, only about a quarter of an inch square, and quite flat.

Under a microscope, it resembles a stylized Navaho rug or the aerial view of a railroad switching yard. Like the grains of sand on a beach, it is made mostly of silicon, next to oxygen the most abundant element on the surface of the earth.

Yet this inert fleck—still unfamiliar to the vast majority of Americans—has astonishing powers that are already transforming society. For the so-called miracle chip has a calculating capability equal...

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