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Solids are much like musical instruments in that they can vibrate only at certain distinct frequencies, so the amount of mechanical energy consumed will depend on the frequencies actually excited. If the “plucking” action of the atoms in an opposing surface resonates with one of the frequencies of the other, then friction arises. But if it is not resonant with any of the other surface’s own frequencies, then sound waves are effectively not generated. This feature opens the exciting possibility that sufficiently small solids, which have relatively few resonant frequencies, might exhibit nearly frictionless sliding.

3, pages 34–40; June 1995. Geomicrobiology. Third edition. Henry L. Ehrlich. Marcel Dekker, 1996. S. html Microbes Deep inside the Earth Copyright 1996 Scientific American, Inc. Scientific American October 1996 73 Friction at the Atomic Scale Long neglected by physicists, the study of friction’s atomic-level origins, or nanotribology, indicates that the force stems from various unexpected sources, including sound energy by Jacqueline Krim I used to dread the first week of December. It wasn’t the darkness or Boston’s pre-snow drizzle that made me gloomy, and it wasn’t the nonexistent parking at holiday-frenzied shopping malls.

RINGELBERG University of Tennessee; GEORGE RETSECK (diagram) ust as countless kinds of life-forms cover the surface of the earth, many different types of bacteria live deep inside the crust. But because different microbes often look very much alike under the microscope, scientists have to resort to creative methods to gauge the extent of this bacterial diversity. Certain methods allow researchers to avoid having to culture the microbes first. Biologists can, for example, apply a procedure called epifluorescence microscopy to visualize bacteria living within rock samples.

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