Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Atomic Innovation Hits The (Super) Small Screen

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The technology behind making the world's smallest movie could soon be used to make even more groundbreaking discoveries. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.

The world's smallest -- not shortest -- movie, called "A Boy and His Atom", was made by IBM out of atoms with help from a scanning, tunneling electron microscope that can magnify those basic building blocks of all matter up to 100 million times their actual size.

"The combination of the ability to move atoms, place them where you expect them to be then see them where you put them and the cultural issue, the imperative of bringing really highly skilled folks to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, those two things came together and drove this effort," said IBM Vice President of Innovation Bernard Meyerson.

And just to put it in perspective, the stop-motion animation, which IBM says took a team of scientists a few hundred hours to create, is thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair.

"What you're actually seeing is somebody is using this Nobel Prize winning technology and some derivatives of it to literally lift an atom from where it was, put it to where you want it, then go back take a picture to make sure it's what you've got and move them around to create the oldest interestingly enough form of video," Meyerson explained.

And while it was a fun project there are also some practical applications. For example, the way the movie was made might also be how we somehow make the devices we use everyday even smaller.

"Potentially how we make them smaller, how we make completely new devices we might have never thought of. When you manipulate individual atoms you can experiment with remarkable structures that might not even exist normally in nature, maybe you discover something," Meyerson said.

For more information on "A Boy and His Atom" you can head over to IBM.com.

For more on programs in your neighborhood geared towards getting students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math head over to our parent company, Time Warner Cable's ConnectAMillionMinds.com.

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