Science Magazine

IBM’s “Boy And His Atom”, Smallest Movie Ever Made

Posted on the 01 May 2013 by Ningauble @AliAksoz

Another day, another awesomeness, my friends.


These little balls you see are individual atoms. The image shows two animated characters in  “A Boy And His Atom”, the smallest movie ever made (certified by the Guinness Book of World Records) by IBM.



It lasts 60 seconds, and depicts a boy, encountering a single atom that he befriends and throws like a ball. He then bounces up and down on a tiny trampoline made up of atoms, throws the original atom into the sky, where it erupts.

Scientists at IBM’s Almaden Research Lab in San Jose, Calif., have figured out a way to precisely move and manipulate individual atoms using a big piece of equipment called a scanning tunneling microscope. It weighs two tons and operates at a temperature of minus 268 degrees Celsius.

This tech led the two IBM inventors to share the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1986. So no joke.

Using a computer, researchers used a tiny needle that moved along a surface of a a small pieceof copper. The needle would draw within one nanometer (a billionth of a meter) of the individual atoms and thus “feel” them so it could then move them into place and shift them around frame by frame in order to make the stop-motion action happen.

The atoms in this movie have been magnified about 100 million times from their original size.

But why did IBM bother with this, aside from the fact that it’s extremely cool? Well, According to Moore’s law — named for Intel co-founder Gordon Moore — individual transistors on chips and the amount of space needed to store individual bits of data tend to shrink every 18 to 24 months. We are, right now, at the a million atoms size. That number can be reduced to 12 atoms in the future. That means, the ability to move and manipulate individual atoms with great precision will eventually come in handy.

And here’s the “Making Of …” video that explains how and why the movie was made.

Thank you IBM, consider me blown away.



Via: Allthingsd

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