• Germany edition
 
German of the Week
Boy - the world's smallest film star
Photo: IBM

Boy - the world's smallest film star

Published: 02 May 2013 12:24 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 May 2013 12:24 GMT+02:00

The video A Boy and His Atom is being watched around the world, making Boy and his German father Andreas Heinrich famous way beyond the confines of science.

Heinrich is principle investigator at IBM - a research rather than detective position. He leads the scanning probe microscopy project looking for possible data storage use of nanostructures. This resulted in the creation of the world's smallest magnetic bits, made of just 12 magnetic atoms.

This answered the question of how many atoms it takes to reliably store one bit of magnetic information. Currently it takes about a million atoms to store a bit of data on a modern computer or electronic device. If commercialized, this atomic memory could one day store all of the movies ever made in a device the size of a fingernail.

And although when published in January 2012 in the journal Science, this excited those in the physics and computing world, it is only now that the work is receiving wider exposure - thanks to Boy.

In the film he makes friend with a single atom and ends up dancing, playing catch and bouncing on a trampoline with it.

“Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic-level is a precise science and entirely novel,” said Heinrich in a statement.

"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 atoms were moved with the IBM scanning tunnelling microscope, which weighs two tonnes, operates at fiercely cold -268C and magnifies the atomic surface more than 100 million times.

The researchers used it to move an extremely sharp needle along a copper surface to pull off individual atoms and take them to a specific spot. The scientists took 242 images and used them as frames for the animation.

“Research means asking questions beyond those required to find good short-term engineering solutions to problems. As data creation and consumption continue to get bigger, data storage needs to get smaller, all the way down to the atomic level,” said Heinrich.

“We’re applying the same techniques used to come up with new computing architectures and alternative ways to store data to making this movie.”

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight
Photo: DPA

Stakes rise in Oracle-SAP copyright fight

US appeals court on Friday ruled that Oracle be given a choice between $356.7 million or a new trial for its copyright lawsuit against German rival SAP. READ  

Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy
Former SPD MP Sebastian Edathy photographed at a press conference in February. Photo: DPA

Court rules against child porn suspect Edathy

The Constitutional Court on Friday rejected an attempt by former Social Democratic (SPD) MP Sebastian Edathy to have evidence against him thrown out in his trial for possession of child pornography. READ  

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash
Photo: DPA

Student busted in case of misdelivered hash

A Bavarian student expecting a cannabis delivery was collared by "Commissioner Fluke" after acting surprised in front of policemen when he saw his letter box was empty. READ  

Security fears block Germany-Israel match
German and Israeli fans cheer in the stands during a friendly in Leipzig in 2012. Photo: DPA

Security fears block Germany-Israel match

A friendly soccer match against Israel marking 50 years of diplomatic ties has been called off amid security concerns and the escalation of the Middle East conflict, the German Football Federation (DFB) said on Friday. READ  

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain
Inside the terminal at the Frankfurt International Airport. Photo: Shutterstock

Germany's brain drain is Europe's gain

Figures from the European Union show that while many German professionals are able to find work abroad with their well-recognised qualifications, Germany doesn't always extend the same courtesy to foreigners. READ  

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims
Passengers at Berlin's Ostkreuz station yesterday as information screens relay news of the disruption. Photo: DPA

S-Bahn arson in support of refugees, group claims

A radical left-wing group claimed responsibility on Friday for an arson attack that cut power to several S-Bahn lines and caused transport chaos in Berlin, saying it was intended to awaken people to the plight of refugees. READ  

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues
Passengers in Hannover check departure boards showing cancelled Germanwings flights. Photo: DPA

Pilots' strike over, but disruption continues

UPDATE: Germanwings pilots have ended their six-hour strike which grounded 116 flights and up to 15,000 passengers of Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings on Friday. READ  

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in
Emergency services use a crane to lift the fallen crane in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Man narrowly escapes unwelcome drop-in

A Cologne resident was pinned to his bed after a 40-metre construction crane toppled onto his home early on Friday. READ  

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel
Merkel looking grave at Thursday's West Balkan conference in Berlin. Photo: DPA

'Further sanctions' could hit Russia, says Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that European leaders will discuss the worsening Ukraine crisis and possible further sanctions against Russia at a weekend summit. READ  

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League
Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm with fellow World Cup champion Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

UK-Germany rivalries live again in Champs League

The 2014-15 Champions League draw yesterday brought déjà-vu for English and German clubs as old opponents found themselves facing off once again. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten of the oddest things found by German border control
Photo: Gerkan, Marg and Partners/Tegel Projekt GmbH/J. Mayer
Berlin
How will Berlin look in five years' time?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The best of Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit in 14 pictures
Photo: DPA
Politics
Germany sends burgers and sausages to Kurds
Photo: Matthias Kock
National
Tribes, ties and a movie: A German's Afghan life
Photo: DPA
Gallery
10 things to do before summer in Germany is really over
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,482
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd