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Summary form only given, as follows. The high Q whispering gallery modes of silica microspheres are promising for quantum optics and nonlinear optics experiments involving atoms and photons stored in very small volumes. We have developed the technology of these resonators, learning how to couple light in and out through optical fibers, how to obtain and measure record Q factors, and how to probe, by near-field optical microscopy, the electric field distribution immediately outside the sphere. Whispering gallery mode lasers have also been obtained with microspheres made of silica doped with neodymium ions. We describe these experiments and discuss projects involving the coupling of whispering gallery modes to single atoms or ions to perform cavity QED experiments in the optical domain.