Video: The Making of the World’s Smallest Video


This content is brought to you by IBM. GOOD and IBM have teamed up to bring you the Figures of Progress series to explore the different ways that information has revolutionized our world. Click here to read more stories.

Scientists have developed tools to investigate the mysteries of our universe as never before, whether using high powered telescopes to peer at galaxies beyond our own, or specially designed microscopes to pinpoint the millions of molecules on the tip of your finger. From the furthest reaches of space to the tiniest particles on Earth, scientists are pioneering ways to see our world in entirely new ways. In this spirit of discovery, the IBM atomic memory research team have been exploring the limits and capabilities of how atoms—the building blocks of everything on Earth—can be used in unexpected ways. As they study how these tiny particles might be used for storing immense amounts of data in computation and information storage, they decided to make a movie created with atoms—a challenging, never attempted feat to painstakingly move thousands of individual atoms—to show what can be possible in atomic research.

The IBM team created what’s now known as the world’s smallest movie, A Boy and His Atom, which was made by magnifying atoms 100 million times through a scanning tunneling microscope. (To give perspective on the smallness of the scale, if atoms were the size of an orange, magnifying them by 100 million times would make them as large as the Earth). Principal Investigator Andreas Heinrich led the team that produced the movie as they positioned each atom individually to create the images for each frame of the stop-motion animation. After moving the molecules around one at a time, the team took a picture before moving on to the next frame. A chemical reaction allowed them to move the atoms individually and as it was done, the researchers listened for a scratching sound to let them know how many places they’d moved the atom.

Though this film is part of a larger look at atomic memory, the team set a Guinness World Record for the world’s smallest stop-motion film. Watch the video above to take a step inside the lab and see how Heinrich and his team created movie as well as learn more about their research in the field of atomic memory.

Want to find out more about atoms, atomic storage or the making of this film? Now is your chance to ask Andreas Heinrich a question. Post your question in the comments below and we’ll ask it during a special interview with Heinrich. Then make sure to check back at the end of May when we share his answers.

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading
The Planet