back to article Physicists assemble world's smallest snowman

The National Physical Laboratory has deployed a range of techniques to create the world's smallest snowman - a diminutive fellow just 10 µm across, or "1/5th the width of a human hair". The world's smallest snowman. Pic: NPL The NPL explains: "The snowman was made from two tin beads used to calibrate electron microscope …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Tzael

    Where's the snow?

    I saw the "just 10 µm wide" under the article title and thought "that's neat, I didn't realise snowflakes could be so small"... I just want to say I feel cheated by the false claim of "snowman" :P

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      So you feel

      woodchucks should be made of wood, and water buffalo out of water.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    It's not a snow man...

    It's not made of snow.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @ Fail AC

      >It's not a snow man it's not made of snow.

      I, for one, SPIT every time I see those so-called "snow"men in stores and bakeries, grinning at me with their DEAD PLASTIC OR COOKIE EYES. HOW DARE THEY NAME SOMETHING AFTER WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

    2. John A Fotheringham


      ...and where's the "not actual size" disclaimer?

  3. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: fail

    Yeah. It's like totally lame.

    1. Simon C


      I've created the first adamantium fork......

      only its not created of adamantium, its made of blu-tac.....

      do I get a phsyics nobel?

      1. Blain Hamon

        Details, details

        Sure! All you have to do is be able to assemble it in blu-tac, and make it a hundredth of a millimeter in size.

  4. Morris Maynard

    Next step

    These guys need to read up on Calvin and Hobbes:

  5. Toby Rose

    More a cowardly lion ...

    Than a Tin Man too.

  6. g e
    Thumb Up

    A better use for my taxes

    Than speedcameras or arresting overly tall people

  7. Riscyrich

    Waaaa, waaaa, waaa...

    .... it's not made of snow. Jog on you strokers.

    Don't even try to be a little bit amazed that these boffins can actually do this. Or appreciate that they might want to try bring a little bit of Christmas spirit into their lives or that Sarah liked this story.

    No instead sit in front of you PC’s typing “it’s not made of snow”, “it’s not IT related”, “where’s the IT angle” etc etc

    (whilst dribbling no doubt)

    1. Raving

      Stop abusing snowmen

      PeTA needs to protest this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      but but

      But that is what we do. It is what we live for. In an equal way that people like you pick on the nitpickers. So, what is the Paris Hilton angel?

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Thanks for feeding the nitpickers

        Thats's 'angle', not 'angel', you illiterate twat.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the lot of you...

  9. Anonymous John

    What about

    the World's smallest Playmobil reconstruction?

  10. leakyPC

    Good to know

    Good to know, Scientists are advancing science and using there grants productively.

    Oh wait there not

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Good to know spelling and grammar are still being taught in British schools.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Thank God I don't live in your humourless world.

      Thank God I don't live in your humourless world, where people can't play for ten minutes to create a bit of festive cheer.

      And thank God you're not a "Scientist", you can barely capitalise, punctuate or spell properly. That really carries weight when discussing proper use of academic funds...

    3. Anonymous Coward


      Right! Should go to speling education there grants shoud.

  11. 3kids2cats1dog
    Paris Hilton

    Sounds like a Friday afternoon thing to do....

    But Look Out Micro Snowman 2.0 will be self replicating! WIth presumably Micro Snow-women, Micro Snow-fetish and all that entails...

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    I like this a lot.

    It blows my mind though when I realise that things can still get much much much much smaller.

  13. John Hawkins

    Follow the yellow brick road...

    "The wonderful Wizard of Oz.

    We hear he is a Whiz of a Wiz if ever a Wiz there was.

    If ever, oh ever a Wiz there was..."

    I guess the little chap will be looking for a heart.

  14. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    it might be the smallest

    but is it the most expensive snowman-like construction ever?

    It may not be made of snow, but it certainly looks cool!

    Go-go nanotech

    1. Cliff

      Most expensive?

      Per kilogram, I'll bet it is ;-)

  15. Sir Smokesalot
    Thumb Up

    May not be snow.....

    But it is still very cool!

  16. Andus McCoatover
    IT Angle

    10 points! Good on you, folks.

    Lovely piccie! Next year, I'll bet they can get a reindeer in the piccie! (Moore's law for the IT angle, natch)

    Made me chuckle.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Award these people 10 Awesome Points

    That's charming, and nicely produced. Great stuff.

  18. Nathan 13
    Thumb Up


    We can create these wonderful things that are totally invisible to the human eye unless magnified 100s of times.

    And its got me feeling like Christmas is coming so Merry Christmas all.

  19. Geoff Mackenzie
    Thumb Up

    Absolutely awesome

    No sarcasm. That's mind blowing. Very nice work!

    I actually want one, although that's slightly tempered by the fact that there's almost no difference between having one and having zero of them. :-)

    1. Jon Leighton

      I want one too, but

      I don't have the room for it.

  20. Pirate Dave

    Where ...

    are they gonna find a magic silk hat that small? And how will such a snowman lead the children through the streets of town when they can't even SEE him?

    Someone wasn't thinking ahead...

    1. archengel46

      Nor the children

      They weren't thinking of the children!

      For God's sake!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    title should read

    boffins make something that looks like a snow man so small they're calling it the worlds smallest snowman - no snow included... SLIGHTLY LESS IMPRESSIVE NOW ISN'T IT, MIGHT NOT HAVE WASTED MY TIME READING IT MIGHTEN I!!!

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Correction, title should read

      "Commentards whining about world's tiniest snowman not being made of actual snow".

      Get a life, wankers. This is awesome.

  22. Eddie Edwards

    Yeah, but

    Yeah, but what did they take the picture with? The world's smallest webcam?

    It looks shopped to me.

  23. Hedley Phillips
    Thumb Up


    I like

  24. DZ-Jay

    What'll they do for an encore?

    Perhaps we should give them more grant money and see what they'll come up with next? The world's tiniest Christmas tree, perhaps? How about the teeniest weeniest ikkle toy train?

    When money and time is no limit, and no actual expectations are are set, the sky is the limit, no?

    All for the advancement of science.


  25. Stu

    Yes indeedy

    <<<Smileyfaced snowman

    Amazing stuff. You idiots who complain its not snow can stroke off too.

    Just one thing - why does it look like freddy krueger took to his neck with a large blade.

    Also tried to hack off his right leg/foot too!

    Its kinda horrific!

  26. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    OK not actually very useful

    But quite cool.

    And it's probably improved their skills at ion writing and platinum bonding.

    I look forward to the writeup in J Vac Sci & Tech.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A platinum nose?

    Were they short of carbon atoms or something?

  28. Captain DaFt

    Aw, quitcher griping

    So technically, it's a snowman figurine, and not a snowman, So what?

    It's still a nice piece of work, although they have been doing stuff like this for twenty years now.

    It's just a fun way to calibrate the equipment and show off what it can do.

  29. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Vulture Standard Units:

    7.1 uLg (microlinguini)

  30. windywoo

    What do they do with it afterwards?

    It won't melt will it? They have denied themselves the pleasure of doing it all again next year. Tsk.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Sure it will melt

      At 505K, or thereabouts. That's (for very obvious reasons) well within the capabilities of your average soldering iron.

  31. Big-nosed Pengie
    Paris Hilton

    Is it anatomically correct?

    If not why not?

    She is.

  32. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Up


    Love it.

    Oh look, he's even got a tiny...

  33. Doug Glass

    Holiday Spirit

    Wow, I see holiday spirit and simile are both quite dead in certain parts of the world.

    "Bah, humbug" is truly your heritage.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    so dont

    eat the metallic yellow snow

  35. bexley

    tax payer money well spent

    Never mind that cure for cancer nor the threat of climate change.

    It's way more fun to fuck about with micro snowmen.

    I would not mind what these chaps did under normal circumstances. But i wan them to get on with some real work now thankyou very much.

    1. DaWolf

      jog on

      it will have cost very little if they already had the equipment, and is awesome. It's also on their educational section - it's supposed to get kids interested in science.

      all the negative people on this thread should just jog on....

    2. rciafardone

      This is a test of capabilities...

      This is a test of capabilities, not a superfluos use of great resourses.

      These are not medical scientist...

      And "Manmade" Climate change is BS since all the "science" behind it is BS.

  36. Captain Thyratron

    Always good to see...

    ...what some good electron optics and some ion beams can do. I wonder how many of the "it's not snow" and "waste of funds" crowds realize that the very same technology is instrumental in the manufacturing of many of the integrated circuits in the computers they're using to write their whiney comments.

  37. Thimmus
    Thumb Up

    Not made of snow?

    Maybe not 'snow' in the traditional sense, but why limit the definition of a word to being just what we've always understood it to mean?

    Besides, it looks vaguely crystalline, and it's bloody impressive. I want one for my tree.

  38. P. Lee Silver badge

    santa hat?

    I thought this was under a domain?

    That'll be "Father Christmas" please! And a bowler hat.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020