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What Is the World’s Shortest Race?

A unique car race will be held later this month in Toulouse, France, but you can’t buy tickets or hang out in the infield -- not because the 36-hour NanoCar Race is sold out, but because you can't see the race cars without a custom-built microscope. The cars can only be 100 atoms in size, and will only travel up to five nanometers per hour. In fact, it would take one of these microscopic cars 37 million years to travel a single mile.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your atoms:

  • The race, organized by the National Center for Scientific Research, will be contested on a minuscule gold disc chilled to -454 degrees Fahrenheit (-270 degrees Celsius).

  • Six countries are sending nano hot rods to the event. Teams from France, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Austria and the United States are expected to enter, but only four will end up competing in the race.

  • The cars will move along with power from an electron charge. Organizers hope that the event will help scientists find new ways to build atomic-scale machines.

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