Tag Archives: atoms

Smallest Actors

Quantum Corral

There’s an old saying (attributed to Stanislavski) that, “There are no small roles, only small actors.” (One might argue that writers do sometimes create small roles, but that’s another blog post and not really what Stranislavski was getting at. He meant actors must take any role seriously, no matter its size.)

What I have today approaches the smallest possible actor in the smallest possible role. Despite this being seven years old, I think it still holds the title of “World’s Smallest Movie” — at least until we can make one starring nucleons or quarks. (I especially like the electron banding; that’s quantum mechanics in action.)

For a Wednesday Wow, a movie starring a single atom.

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Thanks for Patterns

The Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate here in the USA has some unfortunate overtones regarding its colonial origin. Still, the idea of a festival of thanks is an ancient one — thanks for a good harvest or a good hunt. Or, in our case, thanks for helping us not die last winter.

As with Christmas or the Copenhagen interpretation, we tend to take a “shut up and calculate!” approach to the holidays. “Shut up and shop!” in the case of the Winter Solstice, and “Shut up and give thanks!” today.

One thing we can be very thankful about is patterns…

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Size Matters

I have always liked those comparisons that try to illustrate the very tiny by resizing it to more imaginable objects. For instance, one says: if an orange were as big as the Earth, then the atoms of that orange would be a big as grapes. Another says: if an atom were as big as the galaxy, then the Planck Length would be the size of a tree.

The question I have with these is: How accurate are these comparisons? Can I trust them to provide any real sense of the scale involved? If I imagine an Earth made of grapes am I also imagining a orange and its atoms?

So I did a little math.

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