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Tue Feb 13, 2018, 10:24 PM

This Photo of a Single Trapped Atom Is Absolutely Breathtaking


It looks incredible when zoomed in.

FIONA MACDONALD 14 FEB 2018

At the very centre of the image above is something incredible - a single, positively-charged strontium atom, suspended in motion by electric fields.

Not only is this an incredibly rare sight, it's also difficult to wrap your head around the fact that this tiny point of blue light is a building block of matter.

Tiny specks of energy just like this one are at the centre of so much of the stuff around us, and the thought that we can see this one makes our hearts hurt.

In case you're struggling to get a close-enough view to see what we're talking about, the team over at Gizmodo has done the zoom work for you.

More:
https://www.sciencealert.com/photo-of-a-single-trapped-atom-wins-uk-science-photo-prize

13 replies, 6143 views

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply This Photo of a Single Trapped Atom Is Absolutely Breathtaking (Original post)
Judi Lynn Feb 13 OP
Pachamama Feb 13 #1
AllaN01Bear Feb 13 #2
dixiegrrrrl Feb 13 #3
FailureToCommunicate Feb 14 #4
SCantiGOP Feb 16 #13
jmowreader Feb 14 #5
Stardust1 Feb 14 #8
MFM008 Feb 14 #6
hunter Feb 14 #7
struggle4progress Feb 16 #11
Unca Jim Feb 15 #9
Jim__ Feb 16 #10
hunter Feb 16 #12

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 10:37 PM

1. Thats incredible

I love the purple light too...

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 10:38 PM

2. science

ohm myyyyy!!!.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 11:09 PM

3. I am stunned.

Thank you for this.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 12:12 AM

4. Amazing!

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Response to FailureToCommunicate (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 16, 2018, 01:31 PM

13. It would be amazing

but atoms are way too small to be seen even with the maximum magnification available.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 12:55 AM

5. If you scroll down, you also find this...

https://www.arjonline.org/full-text/american-research-journal-of-biosciences/rapid-genetic-and-developmental-morphological-change-following-extreme-celerity

It seems that a biologist wanted to see just how low a pay-for-play scientific journal would sink, so he wrote up the plot of a Star Trek episode to look like a research paper, sent it in (along with money), and they published it.

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Response to jmowreader (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 06:33 PM

8. Oh lordy

Great. Now right wing nut jobs will use that as a way to imply science that they don't like is phony. When really it should be a warning about what happens when you privatize things that shouldn't be privatized.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 04:01 AM

6. Republicans love to disparage

Science but science shall overcome
and holds dominion
Over all.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 12:51 PM

7. To be more accurate, it's the ***light*** from a single atom.

The atom is zipping around like crazy in its confinement, "bouncing off the walls" so to speak, absorbing ultraviolet light and emitting visible light along the way.

I'd guess the spot of light the camera recorded represents the size of the cell the atom is trapped in and/or distortions in the camera's optics.

It's a very remarkable picture.

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Response to hunter (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 16, 2018, 05:59 AM

11. Yes. On my computer screen, the apparent separation between the pins is less than 2 inches

and the dot is about 1/32 of an inch, or perhaps 1/64 of the pin separation

But the true separation of pins is reportedly about 2 mm, while the actual diameter of a strontium atom is around 2 angstroms (about one-ten-millionth of the pin separation)

So the true size of the atom is about a 1/150000 of the true size of that little dot

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Feb 15, 2018, 04:56 PM

9. Ummm....

If the two metal points are 2mm apart that's an awfully big atom!

This is a joke, right?

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Response to Unca Jim (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 16, 2018, 12:00 AM

10. It's not a joke.

From National Geographic:


...

Atoms are infinitesimally small, measuring only a miniscule fraction of an inch in diameter. At 38 protons and 215 billionths of a millimeter across, strontium atoms are relatively large by comparison. Still, the only reason why we can see the atom in the photo is because it absorbed and then re-emitted laser light at a speed capturable by a long camera exposure. So, the photo is actually of the laser light being re-emitted, rather than the outline of an atom. Without the long exposure effect, the atom wouldn't be visible to the naked eye. (Related: "The God Particle" )

...

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Response to Unca Jim (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 16, 2018, 10:43 AM

12. A quick comparison would be stars in the sky. Stars are so far away...

... they too are essentially point sources of light, but this light is spread out by diffraction and other distortions to activate more than a single camera sensor pixel, or rods and cones in a human eye.

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