IBM Releases "A Boy and His Atom," Guinness World Record World's Smallest Movie

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News Posted: Wed, May 1 2013 3:15 PM
Bored nerds create some of the most entertaining and amazing stuff out there, but when those nerds are nanophysicists, they screw around with things at the atomic level. And when those nanophysicists work for IBM, they get paid to make things like the world’s smallest movie.

If you don’t catch what’s happening in this one-minute film, it’s a stop-motion animated feature about a boy playing with an atom. It’s rather 8-bit looking, and the boy is kind of a sloppy stick figure, but you can forgive all of that when you realize that they made the film by manipulating individual atoms and magnifying them 100 million times so we can see them.

Thus, the “atom” the boy is playing with is an actual atom. The folks in the lab used a scanning tunneling microscope to manipulate the atoms for the video.

The whole thing is a stunt to get people reading about IBM’s work in atomic-scale memory. (Congratulations IBM, you have our attention.) The company says is has developed the ability to reduce the number of atoms it takes to store one bit of data on a computer from 100 million atoms to 12 atoms. If that makes your brain hurt, that’s because it should.

Also, the soundtrack is really cool.
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Clixxer replied on Wed, May 1 2013 5:56 PM

Well yeah they do have my attention now. I've heard about them being able to have memory that is as small as 4 atoms wide which should be the next big leap in technology hopefully.

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I looked it up and apparently those are carbon monoxide atoms (I had to know). :D

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Also Each frame measures just 45 by 25 nanometers. There are 25 million nanometers in an inch... which means that each frame is 1 millionth of an inch tall.

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I am in awe.

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I really had no idea that anyone was able to do something like this, yet. Manipulating single atoms so effectively does seem to bode well for future nanotech.

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This is amazing!

I'm curious as to what the process that they use to move those atoms!

Any chance we could see this as a new technological advancement in data?

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Loved this ! If one clicks the link Seth so kindly provides, one learns that the structures being manipulated on the screen, rather than single atoms, are carbon monoxide molecules, i e, pairs of atoms tightly bound to each other, on a copper plate background. This doesn't in any way diminish the work done in the IBM labs, which bodes extremely well for future developments in nanoscale technology ; I merely point it out for the sake of accuracy. Thanks to Seth for posting this cool animation ; don't neglect to also check out the clip in which Andreas Heinrich explains the noise heard when the molecules are moved, which is available from the IBM website !...

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