Atoms make up everything in the universe. So technically, a movie made out of atoms isn’t all that new. In fact, every movie since the dawn of film has been made of atoms, just like everything else. What’s unique about IBM’s latest project then is that researchers have made a stop-motion film by moving single atoms.
In what IBM calls the “world’s smallest movie,” A Boy and His Atom is a short film that was created by IBM researchers “using a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (two atoms stacked on top of each other).” They mostly did it just because they could, and the results are pretty amazing:
It may not look like much, but the above movie is the result of IMB meticulously moving individual atoms to create a scene. It’s actually kind of mind blowing when you realize we can now move individual atoms – the basic building blocks of everything, living and non-living, in the universe.
Of course, making movies out of atoms isn’t IBM’s primary objective here. The company is researching atomic memory – a type of memory storage that packs data into incredibly tight spaces to increase the amount of storage possible in tiny spaces. Early last year, IBM was able to store a bit of data on just 12 atoms. As the technology advances, we’ll soon be able to store more and more data on smaller and smaller devices.
Until then, IBM can be content that it holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s smallest movie.
If you’re interested in learning how IBM manipulated the atoms to make the movie, check out the video below: