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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Mite  
  A very small device (about the size of a dust mite) that has been manufactured for a particular purpose.  

I really enjoyed the way he wrote about nature and artifice in this passage. From the standpoint of the narrator, the creatures of the natural world and the tiny robots are on the same level.

They found a lot of mites, of course, both natural and artificial. The natural ones looked like little crabs and had been quietly inhabiting the outer layers of other creatures bodies for hundreds of millions of years. The artificial ones had been developed in the past few decades. Most of them consisted of a spherical or ellipsoidal hull with various attachments.
From The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam Books in 1995
Additional resources -

Mites are, of course, real creatures; they are tiny arachnids that consume bits of skin or other organic matter.

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