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Physicists Build World's Smallest Snowman

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 38 comments

The holiday season is in full swing and what better way to mark the month than with the world's smallest snowman?

The National Physical Laboratory in the United Kingdom are celebrating the season with the world's smallest snowman. NPL built the tiny snowman by using two tin beads to calibrate electron microscope astigmatism. Measuring 10 µm across, 1/5th the width of a human hair, Mr. Snowman's eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and the nose, which is under 1 µm wide (or 0.001 mm), is ion beam deposited platinum.

NPL says they used a nanomanipulation system to assemble the parts 'by hand' and platinum deposition to weld all elements together. Mr Snowman is mounted on a silicon cantilever from an atomic force microscope whose sharp tip 'feels' surfaces creating topographic surveys at almost atomic scales.

I thought this pretty neat when I first came across it but now that I've watched the video, I think I might be in love. Look at that sweet, nano-smile! And that music! Group hug, guys.

Merry Christmas!

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  • 34 Hide
    xaira , December 8, 2009 12:00 PM
    I guess building nanobots to seek destroy cancer cells in the bloodstream can wait, we gotta build a snowman!!!
  • 29 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , December 8, 2009 12:07 PM
    Snowman FAIL! Everbody knows snowmen have THREE sections, not two. Careless scientists. :p 
  • 18 Hide
    warezme , December 8, 2009 12:14 PM
    reminds me of a joke:

    Question:
    Do you know how moth balls smell??

    Answer:
    Yes, they smell awful.

    Joke:
    Really, and how do you get their little legs apart?
Other Comments
  • 34 Hide
    xaira , December 8, 2009 12:00 PM
    I guess building nanobots to seek destroy cancer cells in the bloodstream can wait, we gotta build a snowman!!!
  • 1 Hide
    GlacierFreeze , December 8, 2009 12:05 PM
    Pretty cool. 1/5th width human hair, would you even be able to see it in your hand? Wouldn't think you would.
  • 29 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , December 8, 2009 12:07 PM
    Snowman FAIL! Everbody knows snowmen have THREE sections, not two. Careless scientists. :p 
  • 18 Hide
    warezme , December 8, 2009 12:14 PM
    reminds me of a joke:

    Question:
    Do you know how moth balls smell??

    Answer:
    Yes, they smell awful.

    Joke:
    Really, and how do you get their little legs apart?
  • 2 Hide
    doc70 , December 8, 2009 12:19 PM
    Awesome!
  • 1 Hide
    JMcEntegart , December 8, 2009 12:23 PM
    soo-nah-meeSnowman FAIL! Everbody knows snowmen have THREE sections, not two. Careless scientists.


    Not true!
  • 4 Hide
    E7130 , December 8, 2009 12:24 PM
    soo-nah-meeSnowman FAIL! Everbody knows snowmen have THREE sections, not two. Careless scientists.


    Hehe, that's what I was thinking. However, just like people snowmen can come in all sizes.
  • -4 Hide
    Camikazi , December 8, 2009 12:44 PM
    JMcEntegartNot true!

    That one has 3 sections, just like us head, torso and the legs section, the micro snowman just has 2 he has no legs :/ 
  • 1 Hide
    theubersmurf , December 8, 2009 12:47 PM
    That was pretty cool.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 8, 2009 12:50 PM
    Those guy have too much time on their hands!
    - Too Much Time on My Hands by Styx (on You Tube)
  • 6 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , December 8, 2009 12:50 PM
    xairaI guess building nanobots to seek destroy cancer cells in the bloodstream can wait, we gotta build a snowman!!!

    Like all of us, even researchers working for the greater good need a break once in a while. Why not mix in a little fun with your work... nano style!
  • 16 Hide
    joebob2000 , December 8, 2009 12:51 PM
    xairaI guess building nanobots to seek destroy cancer cells in the bloodstream can wait, we gotta build a snowman!!!


    Next year: Frosty the cancer-hunting nanobot...

    Cue the music:

    Frosty the nanobot was a cancer eating fiend,
    With a biomolecular pipe and a ion deposited platinum nose
    And two eyes made by depletion via ion beam.
    Frosty the nanobot is a fairy tale, they say,
    He was made of tin but the children who are
    Thin, know he saved a life by destroying cancer cells.
  • 1 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , December 8, 2009 12:53 PM
    Renegade_WarriorThose guy have too much time on their hands! - Too Much Time on My Hands by Styx (on You Tube)

    I think Renegade is actually Tommy Shaw trying to sell greatest hits albums by posting in forums found by googling styx lyrics! :D 
  • 0 Hide
    leo2kp , December 8, 2009 1:00 PM
    Neat-o Cheeto.
  • 0 Hide
    jj463rd , December 8, 2009 1:06 PM
    The snowman has quite a defect (a missing chunck) on the lower left of his body.
  • 1 Hide
    WyomingKnott , December 8, 2009 1:30 PM
    Umm, if made out of two tin beads, it's not a snowman. It's a tinman.

    Riddle: What's the difference between a snowman and a snowwoman?
  • -1 Hide
    buwish , December 8, 2009 1:32 PM
    These guys have a bit too much time on their hands...
  • -1 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , December 8, 2009 1:34 PM
    buwishThese guys have a bit too much time on their hands...
    Yeah, Styx should write a song about it.
  • 3 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , December 8, 2009 1:35 PM
    wyomingKnottRiddle: What's the difference between a snowman and a snowwoman?
    snowMEN are much better drivers.
  • -4 Hide
    Swivelguy , December 8, 2009 1:58 PM
    So the snowman's height is like 30 um. That's really actually not all that small. I suspect there are no fewer than 100 research groups in the world that could make a smaller one in under a week if they wanted to.
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