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“A Boy and His Atom”: The World’s Smallest Movie

Forget pushing electrons, IBM researchers-turned-filmmakers have moved 5,000 atoms to make a stop-motion film–the world’s smallest, confirms Guinness World Records. How can you watch such a tiny movie, you ask? Well, the frames in the film are magnified about 100 million times. (To give perspective: “If an atom were the size of an orange, then the orange would be the size of the whole planet Earth,” the researchers say.)

Meet Adam and his toy atom:

And you thought Disney/Pixar was good at tugging on your heartstrings with no dialogue and bare-bones animation. But in comparison to Disney’s Oscar-winning “Paperman,” which is a little longer than 6 minutes and had dozens of animators, this team of IBM researchers used the tools they had in their lab to make the 242-frame “A Boy and His Atom.” The team used a scanning tunneling microscope to drag atoms along a surface, then took pictures after each move to make the stop-motion film. I’ll let them explain:

For more on how it was made, watch all of their behind-the-scenes videos here.

h/t Chemjobber via Beth Halford

1 Comment

  • May 21st 201315:05
    by Lauren Wolf

    I love that the scientists even made the boy blink–adds a little something extra to the animation. Was also amused in the second video when the postdoc worries about how much time it will take to produce the video (that’s because she knows she’ll be doing most of the work). How many hours do you think it DID take?

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