Quick: What is nano? Can you answer in three minutes or less?

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is challenging the public to do just that, in video form. They're asking people to come up with short films in reply to that question, preferably informative and entertaining ones. (One could be literal and just say nano is a prefix meaning one billionth, but that doesn't make for a very engaging three minutes.) Two cash prizes of $500 are up for grabs—one for the critic's choice, as selected by ACS staff and expert judges, and one for the people's choice, as determined by user votes.

Patrick Bennett and Ryan Miyakawa, grad students in the Applied Science and Technology program at the University of California, Berkeley, took the Sesame Street approach in their submission. "Nano Nano," which found its way onto the blog Boing Boing this morning, illustrates the principles of nanotech and some of its promise in a musical combining live action and puppets. (Bennett directed, Miyakawa wrote the music, and other Berkeley students and staffers chipped in as well.)

Topics covered include: nanotubes, space elevators, quantum dots, and how to win over dour puppet monsters who are skeptical of nanotech's appeal.