Interested in seeing the world’s smallest movie? No, it’s not the ‘shortest’ movie but really the smallest, down to atomic scale. Made by IBM and named “A boy and his Atom” is a 250-frame movie created by precisely moving atoms to create pictures. The intent of the movie is not to make a mini-blockbuster but to see what may become the most efficient data storage technology.
The movie is simply about a boy called ‘Atom’ who finds another atom and plays, dances and bounces with it all in front of a funny old-school music.
They achieved this using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope, invented by IBM themselves in 1981 and winning its inventors a Nobel Prize. It magnifies to about a 100 million times and operates at -260°C range to keep the atoms still in their place.
The microscope has a needle which is remotely controlled by a computer and is about 1nm away from the atom to be moved. This needle actually attracts atoms and molecules allowing them to precisely move them to another specific location. The atoms, when moved make a sound. So, then can know how many atoms were moved by the number of sounds made.
So, how is it a big deal? This same team from IBM also created the world’s first magnetic bit. Currently, it takes about 1 million atoms to store a bit. Now with these magnetic bits, it takes only about 12 atoms. Meaning, with the same amount of atoms you have right now, you will be able to store every movie ever made if you used magnetic bits.
How is it related to this movie? This movie was made utilizing the magnetic properties of atoms. See where there this is going? This is one of the beginning steps to a new better, more efficient data storage technology.
If you’re interest in seeing how this movie was made, watch the video below. If you are even further interested, IBM uploaded many report videos for it which you can find in the “Related Videos” on YouTube.