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Recent advances have led to a new field of scientific exploration, dubbed single molecule biophysics. Prominent among the enabling technologies is the laser-based optical trap, also known as 'optical tweezers.' When combined with various in vitro assays, optical traps can perform physiological measurements on individual biomolecules. In conjunction with ultra-sensitive systems for measuring force and displacement, the nanomechanical properties of proteins and nucleic acids are today being explored with unprecedented precision, revealing rich behaviors that have heretofore been obscured by traditional, ensemble-based measurements. This talk will focus on current work with several representative single-molecule systems, including kinesin motors moving on microtubules, DNA transcription by RNA polymerase, and folding/unfolding transitions in nucleic acids.