This might be cool enough to impress the most cynical of marketers (or even teenagers!).  IBM made “A Boy and His Atom”  from the smallest elements in the universe , atoms – magnified more than 100 million times.  It’s a 250 frame, 90 second film without much of a plot (it’s about a boy playing with a single atom – bouncing, dancing, throwing and jumping on a trampoline) – but it’s one of the coolest movies you will ever see, and fascinating to consider you are watching atoms.   I must say that the boy’s facial expressions are pretty impressive – considering the format.

The movie was built with their Nobel prize-winning technology called a scanning tunneling microscope, remotely operated on a standard computer.  IBM researchers used the microscope to control a super-sharp needle along a copper surface to “feel” atoms.  According to their press release, “Only 1 nanometer away from the surface, which is a billionth of a meter in distance, the needle can physically attract atoms and molecules on the surface and thus pull them to a precisely specified location on the surface.”

“Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic-level is a precise science and entirely novel,” said Andreas Heinrich, Principle Investigator, IBM Research, in the same press release. “At IBM, researchers don’t just read about science, we do it. 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.

I’m not sure where IBM is going with this beyond that academic mission – but clearly the film is an illustration of the power of their exploration of nanotechnology.  The implications of this for data-driven marketing are huge.  If scientists can now amplify and manipulate atoms in a controlled scenario, who knows what they can do to create organic circuits for carrying or transferring large amounts of data.

What other examples of innovation have impressed you recently?!



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This is the eighth installment of the DMA “See Data Differently” series as part of our newly relaunched National Center for Data-Driven Marketing (NCDM).

Join us at our annual “big data” conference, NCDM: Where Marketing Meets Big Data, and SEE DATA DIFFERENTLY.

The National Center for Data-Driven Marketing program features new keynotes and exceptional speakers.  Join us at NCDM: Where Marketing Meets Big Data. December 9-11, 2013, Las Vegas, NV.

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