'World's Smallest Movie' Breaks Records For Everything, Ever

IBM’s The World’s Smallest Movie is coincidentally, probably also the coolest thing you’ll see today. See “boy” – the star of the movie isn’t a real human, but just a cluster of atoms, just a few nanometers in height, moved around a copper surface by an electrically charged, two-tonne machine known as scanning tunnelling microscope. Told you it was cool. The film aptly takes the Guinness title of “smallest movie”, with each frame measuring just 45 milimeters to 25 milimeters. To put that into perspective, there are around 25 million nanometres in an inch. Are you picturing it? No, we didn’t think so.

In any case, the maxim that small things are inherently cute couldn’t be more true here. Perhaps it’s the simple “animation” or the minimal video game-style music, but it’s easy to let out a little “aww” at the sight of Boy, playing with his atom. It makes you wonder, does an atom count as a pet? In the minute and a half stop motion video, it certainly does.

Andreas Heinrich, IBM's principal scientist for the project, said this is the first time anything so small has been manipulated to tell a story. He said: “This movie is a fun way to share the atomic-scale world… The reason we made this was not to convey a scientific message directly, but to engage with students, to prompt them to ask questions.”

He also confirmed that, yes, the movie was “filmed” at -286̊ C: “The cold makes life simpler for us…The atoms hold still. They would move around on their own at room temperature.”

Told you it was pretty cool – figuratively and literally. If you’re interested in seeing the “movie”, just scroll down to the video below.


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