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>>

  • Puerto Rico declares chikungunya epidemic

    Puerto Rico declares chikungunya epidemic

    Friday, July 18 2014 7:48 AM EDT2014-07-18 11:48:06 GMT
    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Health officials in Puerto Rico on Thursday declared an epidemic of the mosquito-borne virus known as chikungunya, which was introduced into the Caribbean region late last year. Health Secretary Ana Rius said that more than 200 cases had been confirmed on the island as of June 25 and that the majority of them were reported in the capital of San Juan and nearby areas. The first case of chikungunya in the U.S. territory was reported in late May. Also on Thursday, ...
    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Health officials in Puerto Rico on Thursday declared an epidemic of the mosquito-borne virus known as chikungunya, which was introduced into the Caribbean region late last year. Health Secretary Ana Rius said that more than 200 cases had been confirmed on the island as of June 25 and that the majority of them were reported in the capital of San Juan and nearby areas. The first case of chikungunya in the U.S. territory was reported in late May. Also on Thursday, ...
  • Couple and baby miss Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that was downed over Ukraine

    Couple and baby miss Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that was downed over Ukraine

    Friday, July 18 2014 7:47 AM EDT2014-07-18 11:47:36 GMT
    Imagine how you would feel if you were supposed to be on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that was downed over eastern Ukraine on Thursday but changed your flight for a later time?
    Imagine how you would feel if you were supposed to be on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that was downed over eastern Ukraine on Thursday but changed your flight for a later time?
  • Company sets limits on how long workers can use bathroom

    Company sets limits on how long workers can use bathroom

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 11:02 AM EDT2014-07-16 15:02:02 GMT
    Should an employer have any say in how much time you spend in the bathroom on company time? According to an article on CNN.com, Chicago's Watersaver Faucet Company installed swipe card systems on bathrooms at their factory in an attempt to limit bathroom breaks to 6 minutes or less. WaterSaver disciplined nineteen workers for what they call "excessive use" of washrooms. FOX 5’s Wisdom Martin has more. READ MORE: http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/15/smallbusiness/bathroom-time-penalty/
    Should an employer have any say in how much time you spend in the bathroom on company time? According to an article on CNN.com, Chicago's Watersaver Faucet Company installed swipe card systems on bathrooms at their factory in an attempt to limit bathroom breaks to 6 minutes or less. WaterSaver disciplined nineteen workers for what they call "excessive use" of washrooms. FOX 5’s Wisdom Martin has more. READ MORE: http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/15/smallbusiness/bathroom-time-penalty/
Powered by WorldNow

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 | Terms of Service | Ad Choices