IBM makes tiny movie by pushing molecules around - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

IBM makes tiny movie by pushing molecules around

Posted: Updated:

Scientists have taken the idea of a film short down to new levels. Molecular levels.

IBM says it has made the tiniest stop-motion movie ever - a one-minute video of individual carbon monoxide molecules repeatedly rearranged to show a boy dancing, throwing a ball and bouncing on a trampoline.

Each frame measures 45 by 25 nanometers - there are 25 million nanometers in an inch - but hugely magnified, the movie (http://bit.ly/17ZmHIt ) is reminiscent of early video games, particularly when the boy bounces the ball off the side of the frame accompanied by simple music and sound effects.

The movie is titled, "A Boy and His Atom."

Videos showing atoms in motion have been seen before but Andreas Heinrich, IBM's principal scientist for the project, said Tuesday this is the first time anything so small has been maneuvered to tell a story.

"This movie is a fun way to share the atomic-scale world," Heinrich said. "The reason we made this was not to convey a scientific message directly, but to engage with students, to prompt them to ask questions."

Jamie Panas of Guinness World Records said Guinness certified the movie as "Smallest Stop-Motion Film."

IBM used a remotely operated two-ton scanning tunneling microscope at its lab in San Jose, Calif., to make the movie earlier this year. The microscope magnifies the surface over 100 million times. It operates at 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (268 degrees below zero Celsius).

The cold "makes life simpler for us," Heinrich said. "The atoms hold still. They would move around on their own at room temperature."

Scientists used the microscope to control a tiny, supersharp needle along a copper surface, IBM said. At a distance of just 1 nanometer, the needle physically attracted the carbon monoxide molecules and pulled them to a precisely specified location on the surface.

The dots that make up the figures in the movie are the oxygen atoms in the molecule, Heinrich said.

The scientists took 242 still images that make up the movie's 242 frames.

Heinrich said the techniques used to make the movie are similar to what IBM is doing to make data storage smaller.

"As data creation and consumption continue to get bigger, data storage needs to get smaller, all the way down to the atomic level," he said.

---

Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Washington.

  • Viral StoriesMore>>

  • Strong earthquake aftershock shakes Napa Valley

    Strong earthquake aftershock shakes Napa Valley

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:37 AM EDT2014-09-01 14:37:13 GMT
    A significant aftershock from last weekend's magnitude-6.0 earthquake has rattled Northern California's wine country. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-3.2 tremor struck 5 miles south of the city of Napa just before 2 a.m. Sunday.
    A significant aftershock from last weekend's magnitude-6.0 earthquake has rattled Northern California's wine country. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-3.2 tremor struck 5 miles south of the city of Napa just before 2 a.m. Sunday.
  • Lane marking mess on I-66 eastbound near Centreville, Va.

    Lane marking mess on I-66 eastbound near Centreville, Va.

    Monday, August 25 2014 6:20 PM EDT2014-08-25 22:20:44 GMT
    It was commuter confusion out on Interstate 66 Monday morning. Drivers heading eastbound towards Washington D.C. wound up seeing their traffic lanes suddenly turn into a mess. Lane stripes somehow pulled away from the road surface and created a mess of tangled tape and lanes that didn't make sense.
    It was commuter confusion out on Interstate 66 Monday morning. Drivers heading eastbound towards Washington D.C. wound up seeing their traffic lanes suddenly turn into a mess. Lane stripes somehow pulled away from the road surface and created a mess of tangled tape and lanes that didn't make sense.
  • New marijuana drug 'Wax' looks and feels like lip balm

    New marijuana drug 'Wax' looks and feels like lip balm

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:52 PM EDT2014-08-22 23:52:09 GMT
    It goes by the name Wax, Butter and Honeycomb on the streets, and it can pack a kick equal to 15 to 20 joints of marijuana. The new drug looks and feels like lip balm. It's made from the oils of marijuana plants and has a high level of THC - the chemical that produces a high.
    It goes by the name Wax, Butter and Honeycomb on the streets, and it can pack a kick equal to 15 to 20 joints of marijuana. The new drug looks and feels like lip balm. It's made from the oils of marijuana plants and has a high level of THC - the chemical that produces a high.
Powered by WorldNow
Untitled

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices