back to article World-record-breaking boffins reveal the fastest spinning thing on Earth – and it's not George Orwell in his grave

The fastest spinning object on Earth – a pair of nanoparticles – can complete over five billion revolutions per second in the laboratory, according to a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology on Monday. Here's how the team at Purdue University in the US pulled it off: they formed a dumbbell-shaped object roughly 300nm across …

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  2. redpawn Silver badge

    Way Cool...

    And by cool I mean Hot. Lots of energy per unit mass. What happens when opposing rotations are allowed to collide? For instance two dumbbells spinning in the same direction, think gears.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Way Cool...

      Energy per unit mass is about 10x better than a fly wheel, similar to ANFO (cheap explosive) and about one tenth of body fat. (Assumed: two spheres with 75nm radius and density 2500kg/m3. Energy=34pJ, Energy density 3.9MJ/kg)

      If all the energy went into heating the dumbbells then the temperature would rise about 5500K. This is well over the melting point but I could not find the latent heat of fusion (or vaporisation). Each of those steps would reduce the final temperature but it certainly looks like a collision would break up the dumbbells into really tiny pieces.

  3. Schultz

    "fastest spinning thing on Earth"

    That statement is nonsense, because in molecular spectroscopy molecules are routinely observed spinning with THz frequencies. Paul Corcum constructed an 'optical centrifuge' (just some clever laser trick) to spin up molecules until they broke apart from the centrifugal force, now that is closer to the limit. (see here and here.)

    A quick check of the canned researcher press release shows a slightly more specific statement: "Scientists at Purdue University have created the world's fastest-spinning human-made object". But that is still nonsense, those rotating molecules observed in spectroscopy are often humanly made (i.e., synthesized). A correct statement might be that they observed the fastest rotation in a classical object (as opposed to the quantized motion of a molecule).

    A nice example of scientific hyperbole:

    Step 1: Big paper with big claims.

    Step 2: Big press release with even bigger claims (grazing the fact-fiction borderline).

    Step 3: Big press articles with even bigger claims that are pure nonsense.

    1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      Re: "fastest spinning thing on Earth"

      Just as the comparison of this nanoparticle against a pulsar is a dubious one, given the different scales of the two objects; so is your comparison of the comparison against a Cl_2 molecule, albeit in the opposite direction (although admittedly not quite so extreme a difference). Further, a diatomic chlorine molecule, as reported on in your second link, is not something that would normally be considered a "made object" in the same sense as the dumbbell nanoparticle is.

      It might also be worth noting that the title is "Ultrasensitive torque detection with an optically levitated nanorotor", rather than "New nanoparticle rotation speed record!", and that their interest seems mostly in being able to use it as a sensor.

      More generally, if you have a problem with "scientific hyperbole", then it is only sensible to pay rather less attention to the press release, and news articles based on them. Unfortunately, since it usually seems that science *not* dressed up in hyperbole rarely makes it into the media, interesting results are routinely hyperbolised rather more than is perhaps desirable.

      If you have any interest in the science, you need to read the scientific article. Since the published article is behind a paywall, it looks like there is a preprint version here:

      I await with interest your informed commentary.

  4. Bitsminer Bronze badge

    But can they beat Ferrari?

    1. 0laf

      Everyone knows the fastest thing on earth is a Ford Transit Van on the M6

      1. Juan Inamillion

        Actually, to be more specific, I'd say a Ford Transit Van on the M1 heading toward what was the Blue Boar services at Watford Gap at 2AM. Never been beaten I'd venture...

        1. 0laf

          I did consider the M1 but the amount of roadworks would likely prevent any attempt at a record by a Transit.

          However I commend the specificity of your comment.

          1. Juan Inamillion

            Thanks, it was the mere mention of a Ford Transit Van on a m-way that evoked ancient memories of a life past lived...

      2. Tim99 Silver badge

        But what colour? White-van-man added go-faster stripes?

        1. 0laf

          White with heavy rusting

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Depends on the redshift. If they were heading away from you, it'd be blueshift.

          1. Tim99 Silver badge

            In Oz go-faster stripes are not a thing. Red vehicles are known to go faster than any other colour, so heading away from you they would appear infrared-black?

      3. james 68

        As fastest thing, sure. But this is about the fastest "spinning" thing, everyone knows that the fastest spinning things are Porsche 911's (of the early 930 variety) on just about any road with even a hint of a curve.

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Reminds me of seeing guys on Harley's in New Zealand. Unless you are on the Canterbury or Hauraki plains a Harley will meet far too many tight corners in NZ roads for comfort.

          I rode Suzuki and then a Kawasaki road bikes. Bigger is not necessarily better there either. I was on my z440 Kwakker going down the Kaikoura coast road (in pre broken times) behind a guy on a GPZ900. He would pull away from me on the wide sweeping bays but I'd pull up behind him on the corners round the points. In NZ you get speed boards on corners giving a safe comfortable speed. On some parts of the old road they got down to 20kph (hairpin).

          I understand the rebuild has fixed a lot of those. Fairly easy to do, the quake lifted the seabed meaning the road can use that and the mountains fell down onto the road/rail line so had to be moved anway.

          The original effort to run first a rail line then State Highway 1 down that coast was colossal. It went either rocky shore:road;rail line;mountainside or rocky shore:rail line:road:mountainside. The swap was usually when the rail was in a tunnel. There were little road tunnels through the points at some places as well. The road is still listed as 'fragile' since they cannot contain all the stuff which tends to come down when it rains heavily. it will take a while for things to settle.

          The road from Te Anau to Milford Sound has a roading depot half way along on the eastern side of the Homer Tunnel to keep the road open WHEN slips happen. A bit like the road around Rest and Be Thankful in the Highlands of Scotland.

          1. Kiwi

            I was on my z440 Kwakker going down the Kaikoura coast road (in pre broken times) behind a guy on a GPZ900. He would pull away from me on the wide sweeping bays but I'd pull up behind him on the corners round the points.

            Shh! You'll spoil one of my secrets! My ancient cruiser easily outpaces many new litre+ bikes for 2 basic reasons. First, the shorter wheel base gives me an advantage over the larger bikes even though they're "sports bikes" and 2nd - almost without exception the people who ride them are "weekend warriors" who get out one weekend a month, 3 or 4 months of the year - they barely know their bikes whereas I am on mine almost every day, and I love to push it! (my chicken lines cause me to just about crap myself when I see them, just 2mm from the edge of the tyre)

            As to the speed boards... My scariest moment was not too many years back when on SH45 (Taranaki coast road). Went into a corner at 100Kph that turned out to be one that'd normally have a 45Kph sign on it only the sign wasn't there. That day I discovered how far over my bike is before I'm scraping steel. I also discovered the true meaning of "pucker moment". And discovered much gratitude for having learned "trail braking", and aggressively so. And reminded of how important practising "emergency handling" is!

  5. Crisp

    The fastest spinning object on Earth?

    Is it faster than The Flash?

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: The fastest spinning object on Earth?

      In that one is real while the other is not...?

    2. FrogsAndChips

      Re: The fastest spinning object on Earth?

      I thought it was BoJo's moral compass.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge

        Re: The fastest spinning object on Earth?

        At least he has a moral compass to spin, unlike the Don here across the pond.

  6. Evil Auditor

    I fail to link to Orwell. Except that, obviously, the privacy of a pair of nanoparticles was violated.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I think the OSiHG (Orwell Spinning in His Grave) is a Reg standard of measurement.

    2. Killfalcon

      Just a "state of the world" comment that fits in the subhead I guess. It's how the kids be these days. [Resigned pessimism], but [small item of joy].

      Like "Australia is on fire, but Oracle have invented an exciting new lawsuit for us to gawp at" or "half the cities in the UK will be flooding by 2050, but apple have released the new iPhone".

  7. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    A tiny amount of drag

    may or may not be something I wear when I vacuum. But nobody can be sure about that because the curtains are closed. I guess that makes it Schrödinger's drag.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A tiny amount of drag

      I guess that makes it Schrödinger's drag.

      Oh god, don't bring quantum mechanics into this, before you know it we'll be up to our necks in G-string theory and drag quarks...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: A tiny amount of drag

        Before you know it party scientists will be making the hostess's underwear de-materialise and re-appear several feet to the side.

        Not that I get invited to such parties*.

        *HHGTTG - the gift that keeps on giving.

        1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

          Re: A tiny amount of drag

          Just don't open the curtains, or I'll collapse into a state. And that won't be a superposition for me...

      2. mr.K

        Re: A tiny amount of drag

        I always thought drag quarks to be a little strange...

  8. mabl4367

    Now, where did I put my fidget spinner?

    I'll have this record beaten by Friday.

  9. StargateSg7

    With this 300 Billion RPM invention I could make a 300 Gigahertz Bandwidth Oscilloscope by sampling incoming EM and see what LEVEL of perturbations (i.e. wobble) are induced and what amplitude those "wobbles" are! With multiple nano-particles I can sample them slightly offset from each other at angular distances away from neighbouring nano-particles (i.e. in 15 degree increments) such that a MECHANICAL SAMPLING of any type and frequency of analogue signal COULD be done at various multiples of 300 GHz such as 600 GHz, 1.2 THz, 2.4THz AND I wouldn't have to spend $250 000 US for a merely 100 GHZ Lecroy scope because I could trap these nano-particles in cheap CMOS wells/circuits!


    I'm all in in on this .... Sub-$5000, Multi-TeraHertz bandwidth oscilloscopes !!! --- What's not to like???


  10. ILLQO

    Random thought of the day

    Youtube video creator: Look I have the worlds fastest fidget spinner.

    Purdue University: Hold my Beer

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