I doubt that many Toolmongers have an electron microscope — much less the tiny tin beads used to calibrate their astigmatism — and a focused ion beam in their garage or shop. However, if they did, I’m sure one of them would have created something similar to the 10µm wide (1/5 the width of a typical human hair) “snowman” shown above. The UK’s National Physics Laboratory (NPL) used platinum deposition to weld the beads together to create the nose, and milled the eyes and smile with a focused ion beam.
I first saw this snowman on Fred Langa’s blog (What Comes Next?). Fred lists a New Scientist link that includes the original snowman in black and white plus another image of a microscopic Christmas tree.
One more thing: most Toolmongers and their kids will be building macroscopic snowmen this year. Got any cool/interesting/tool-wielding snowmen in your yard this season? Drop the pics in the Flickr pool!
Season’s Greetings [NPL]