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Moments in the Age of Miracles and Wonders: ‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’

The [Very]  Small Pale Blueish / Purplish Dot

‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’, by David Nadlinger, from the University of Oxford, shows the atom held by the fields emanating from the metal electrodes surrounding it. The distance between the small needle tips is about two millimetres.

When illuminated by a laser of the right blue-violet colour the atom absorbs and re-emits light particles sufficiently quickly for an ordinary camera to capture it in a long exposure photograph. The winning picture was taken through a window of the ultra-high vacuum chamber that houses the ion trap.

David Nadlinger, explained how the photograph came about: “The idea of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the miniscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality. A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed the numbers to be on my side, and when I set off to the lab with camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with this particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.” Single Trapped Atom Captures Science Photography Competition’s top prize – EPSRC website

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all, Oh yeah
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby, don’t cry, don’t cry

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • scory February 14, 2018, 7:07 AM

    The technological advances of the past 250 years have been truly phenomenal. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if moral advance had kept pace instead of sinking and regressing. It’s as if the progress of mankind is displayed on a balance scale with material advance on one side and spiritual on the other. When one rises the other lowers. It seems to me it doesn’t have to be this way but humans appear to have a very powerful propensity to leap to conclusions about their place in the cosmos based mostly on whether life is comfortable or not. If comfort is high then regard for self rises with it and regard for God sinks and when the loss of our comfortable condition happens then a sudden shift toward divine intervention to relieve the situation results in God becoming paramount, at least for the moment. Not many are able or willing to show gratitude to God for His gifts when times are good but many will drop to their knees and beg Him to intervene when catastrophe arises and those gifts are destroyed by human idiocy. There were many stories of churches filling up in the immediate wake of 9/11. Today all we read about is empty pews.

  • ghostsniper February 14, 2018, 2:15 PM

    @Scory, not all of us are like that.
    I think of it as the “squeaky wheel syndrome”, that is, those that wail the loudest get the most attention. The rest of us just stand back out of the way and let them burn out in their own flames.

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