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"A boy and his atom", the world's smallest movie, by IBM

by Mark Tyson on 1 May 2013, 14:00


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The Guinness World of Records has verified that a film unveiled by IBM research is “the world's smallest movie”. The film was created using stop-motion techniques but astonishingly the stars of the show are single atoms. Staff at IBM Research animated “A boy and his atom” in a feature that includes dancing, bouncing on a trampoline and catching a ball. Phys.org suggests the film, with its playful soundtrack, “represents a unique way to convey science outside the research community”.

The intro to the film partly explains IBM’s endeavours in creating this production:

“These are atoms.
Magnified over 100 million times.
At IBM research we move atoms, to explore the limits of data storage.
To explore the limits of filmmaking we created the world’s smallest movie.
It was made by moving actual atoms, frame by frame.
IBM Research presents...

Andreas Heinrich, Principle Investigator, IBM Research said “Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic-level is a precise science and entirely novel.” He went on to reveal “At IBM, researchers don't just read about science, we do it. This movie is a fun way to share the atomic-scale world while opening up a dialogue with students and others on the new frontiers of math and science.”

The world's smallest logo?

To make the film IBM used a two ton IBM-invented scanning tunneling microscope which boasts 100 million times magnification. This microscope operates on atoms chilled to a temperature of -268 degrees Celcius. Phys.org reports that the microscope and a “super sharp needle” were controlled using a standard computer to enable researchers to precisely place the atoms as required by this stop-motion animation technique.

Behind the scenes at he "movie studio"

“A boy and his atom”, is a pretty amazing feat, however some people are never satisfied; the top comment on YouTube is “3/10, plot was not consistent and there was no character development.” To this, someone replied that it’s “still better than Twilight”.

Movie poster, click to enlarge

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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That's genuinely incredible.
wow, even I was impressed :)
Don't think Pixar are going to be worried anytime soon - but wow, :thumbsup: well done, IBM.

Kid's reaction was … what's the grey stuff around the little blobs? Peasants! :(