The atom casts its shadow
July 6th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

The atom casts its shadow

With all this talk about the Higgs boson's possible discovery this week, it's refreshing to also have news about a component of the universe we are intimately familiar with: the atom.

Atoms are the building blocks of everything you see around you. They can be further broken down into protons, neutrons and electrons. Theoretically, they have mass because of the Higgs boson, a particle that may have been detected for the first time at the Large Hadron Collider.

This week Australian scientists released this first-ever image of the shadow of the atom.

Why is that important? It could pave the way for the future of biological imaging, not to mention quantum computing, according to Cosmos. The research was done at the Centre for Quantum Dynamics at Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland, and published in the journal Nature Communications.

Read more about this study in Cosmos

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soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. 18650行動電源

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    June 22, 2013 at 7:12 am |
  2. buying

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    February 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  3. jed

    Interesting how 150 years ago very few scientists even believed that atoms existed.

    July 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  4. PhillyFilly

    No, that's just your reflection on the screen.

    Badda-bing!

    July 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  5. FrayedJeff

    Where is Eve's shadow?

    Ah, ha-ha, I saw what you did there! o_0

    July 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  6. $tillRun!n1@Ya.Com

    Shadow of an atom you say?....Kinda looks like a whispering eye to me.

    July 7, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  7. bobincal

    Ytterbium (pronounced ih-tur-bee-uhm) is a very large atom. It has 70 protons and 103 neutrons in its nucleus, and 70 electrons in 6 shells around the nucleus (including 32 in shell 4). You can see the shadow of the nucleus in black. Are the yellow bands the 6 electron shells? I wonder if they will be able to trap the shadow of a smaller more common atom like oxygen.

    July 7, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • J

      The shells aren't actually physical locations but are mathematical constructs representing probability of finding electrons in that region. The same goes for the specific electron shells (e.g., s, the three p, five d and seven f). The lines are probably related to the resolution of the imaging system.

      July 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
      • I'm The Best!

        I thought the circles had to do with the lens, but I might be wrong. It did say it was like a lighthouse lens which has rings in it instead of the curve of a normal camera lens. That's just what I as.sumed they were talking about.

        July 8, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  8. CanOnTo

    OMG, it looks like Jesus!!!

    July 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  9. Rick Springfield

    Nice, so we captured a shadow of an atom. So we can send a Maytag washer into space and far off distances. But why in hells dumptruck can't we figure out how to keep my satellite system from going out when it rains.

    July 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  10. Al

    Do you really have nothing better to do than waste your time posting things that have nothing to do with the topic? I fail to grasp how people don't understand how stupid it makes their opinions look – regardless of their validity. Wait till an actual article on 9/11 comes along before posting this stuff.

    July 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  11. Jon

    I find the continuing discoveries of science and the men and women who work to find them to be remarkable. I find poorly written argumentative comments with baseless facts, facts not pertaining to the article itself, rambling nonsense and evident stupidty from my fellow humans who would comment on said articles to be sad and rediculous. Why don't we just comment with relivant knowledge and not just our hands at the keyboard?

    July 7, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  12. richunix

    Amazing, simple amazing.....one step closer in understanding the universe we are part of....

    July 7, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • hooch

      Full Of Watermelon!!!!!
      Sincerely
      Africa

      July 7, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • moab2go

      I agree – it is amazing.

      July 7, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  13. rb

    @hmmm: I hope you are in the third grade, because I believe it was somewhere around the fourth grade that we learned that Africa is a continent, not a country.

    July 7, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • Ralph

      Unless your from Alaska.

      July 7, 2012 at 10:26 am |
      • wisdom4u2

        It's *you're*

        July 7, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  14. smarti

    You scientist need to just leave crap alone.. !

    July 7, 2012 at 4:12 am |
    • Dave

      Says the guy using a computer and the internet, which wouldn't exist without scientists doing their jobs?

      July 7, 2012 at 4:39 am |
    • brownsalwaysrebuilding

      Without Atomic Theory and Quantum Mechanics you wouldn't be using that computer right now.

      July 7, 2012 at 8:41 am |
      • PeriSoft

        @ffd

        I have to say that this is the first time I've seen someone utilize 'sh1thead' in a post about quantum mechanics. I'm not sure whether it's depressing or heartening.

        FWIW, I think that some of the recent processors have gained some R&D help, at least, from the 'older' quantum knowledge. And it's already been a while since quantum encryption has been used in banking transactions; if you consider that part of computing, then it's certainly been put to practical use.

        Really, it's kind of like the Euro – you don't know whether you have money until you've looked at it...

        July 8, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  15. acajunthatsagun

    Power was provided from kangaroo poo.

    July 7, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  16. bradleyben

    I know the name of a GOOD science reporter – (ahem) Miles O'Brien.

    July 7, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  17. wisdom4u2

    BS!! Looks like a booger shown in yellow, orange and black pixels.

    July 7, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  18. mdamone

    Quantum computing!! Unbelievably huge. Don't believe in predicting the future? Check out Quantum computing and the tiny FRACTION of what we know it to be capable of....

    July 7, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  19. AnonObserver

    CNN needs to hire Kip Thorne (Cal Tech) or Brian Greene (Columbia) – or both – to write these nuclear/subatomic physics articles.

    July 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  20. Oakstave

    If it sees it's shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter.

    July 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  21. Paul S

    Just a quick correction: many people are saying that the Higgs Boson is what gives fundamental particles their mass. That's not true. The Higgs Boson gives some tiny fraction of the mass of fundamental particles. Most mass is created by interactions described by Quantum Chromo Dynamics. Even if the Higgs Boson did not exist, the proton mass would be almost exactly what it is now.

    July 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • glenview0818

      Not true!

      July 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • BetterDeadThanFed

      I knew it! This is why Weebles wobble but they don't fall down! Amazing!

      July 7, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  22. Mike

    To everyone below: The CNN article is very stripped down. If you go read the article, you will get some insight into how they setup the experiment, thought from a scientist's perspective I would not take much from that article either. It is poorly written and it is clear that whoever wrote the article has no clue what they are talking about. This sentences from cosmos is especially hilarious, "Current techniques like biomarkers cause severe damage to biological samples, like DNA and cells." I am not familiar with a "biomarker" technique of imaging..lolol. I think something was lost in translation.

    Also, no, this is not the first time an atom has been visualized, but it is the first time that a shadow has been mapped out (as the article stats). AFM and STM are perfectly valid at "visualizing" the samples. Probing atoms using atomic force microscopy and scanning tunneling are just as valid as optical approaches (if not more valid) for detecting a single atom.

    July 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  23. Brad

    I suppose this means there will be six more weeks of winter.

    July 6, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • William

      No brad thats for groundhogs. For something this small you get six more nano seconds. silly!

      July 6, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
      • Joe

        William, that's pretty funny.

        July 7, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  24. ADiff

    I'm venturing a guess the 'shadow' is cast in such way as to appear significantly larger than the atom which cast it. I say this because the image is composed of a large number of individual pixels, and even at higher wavelengths I'm not sure any individual pixilation could be substantially 'smaller' than any individual atom. At any rate given the image is what it purports to be, it's fascinating! Especially interesting is the 'wavy' area around the central region. Does this just represent distortion around the image? Or is it 'part and parcel' of the overall image of the atom, which, of course, is largely made up of 'space' around a very much smaller nucleus. I will have to see if I can find a better description of exactly what it is we're supposed to be looking at. Irrespective, this is brilliant work, deserving of high acclaim, however precisely what is claimed, as bringing us farther along the road to extremely high level resolution of microscopic objects, with great potential in many areas of healthcare, biological research, and material science. Bravo!

    July 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  25. GEdwards

    The shadow of an atom? Not likely. Isn't the wavelength of visible light is longer than the size of an atom, thereby making it impossible to see an atom or its shadow?

    More likely it's similar to an echo that is a magnified shadow.

    July 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • ddblah

      what if you use X-ray?

      July 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • A Scientist

      Dear Sir, as a scientist who specializes in imaging your comment is about 10 years obsolete – I myself have imaged at 20nm, using light microscopy, which is 10 fold shorter than the wavelength, at approx 220nm – it is called super-resolution and has been around since the introduction of Leica's 4Pi of which I used, followed by STED and then the single resolution molecular scopes or PALM scopes, and Biplane as well – so your matter of fact comment is a bit behind by a decade or so

      July 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
      • publiccries

        Most people on here know little of the tech. of science,easier to make dumba$$ remarks than read,this is very cool to me a 15 year science hobbiest,sounds like you have a very remarkable career cheers, beam me out here please!!,

        July 7, 2012 at 6:33 am |
  26. closetiguana

    I thought this was done before, like over a decade ago.

    July 6, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • BK

      I think that was seeing the atom itself with a microscope, though i'm not sure.

      July 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  27. rollins

    It was very intersting that CNN reported that they found the "God Particle" and that the "Apocalypse Gate" was destroyed on the same day. Oh CNN you make me giggle!

    July 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  28. CADude

    It's astounding how every article published must be politicized in one way or another. We, as a culture, need to grow up get over ourselves. In the larger scheme of life here on Earth, out politics are just are not that important.

    July 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  29. LoLcAtZ

    The fact that an atom has a shadow isn't surprising. The fact that it was able to be recorded is.

    July 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  30. iammeyouareyou

    In the end, the God-hating scientists of the world will find the "God" particle. And then they will find GOD. For they will find that God made the "God" particle and everything else in the universe. It did not just spontanelously blow up and appear one day on its own like the "Big Bangers" want you to believe. GOD MADE IT HAPPEN !!!

    July 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Morrigan in Oregon

      Actually, it is really not necessary to have a 'God' .
      I mean we can be moral and decent to each other with out threat of hellfire.
      Matter of fact the threat of hellfire to do what I would do anyway is rather offensive.

      July 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
      • Jon

        No one will get into heaven by being afraid of going to hell.

        July 6, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
      • Hmmm

        dont need God? why don't you take a look at the bloodshed and hatred in athiests countries like Africa and Russia.

        July 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        @Hmmmm
        Furthermore, European countries that are the MOST atheistic (2005 data) include France, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Sweden, Luxemburg, etc. etc. etc... Surely these heathenistic countries are just rife with violence... oh wait... no they're not.

        July 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • sbp

      GOD, do you sound like a dope.

      July 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • jim

      You are kind of outdated. No one thinks the universe was "created' by the big bang, but that a previously existing very compact universe rapidly expanded due to quantum variations in the Higgs field in the primordial universe. How long this primordial universe existed before expansion, and where it came from are totally unknown.
      If you want, there is still room for God in cosmic science.

      July 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        Yes, this is known as "the God of the gaps". Unfortunately, saying God dunnit, doesn't advance human knowledge. As long as people accept the gaps in scientific knowledge be filled by God dunnit, when science does finally explain these gaps, God, eventually is displaced to where he belongs: Oblivion.A

        July 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Marine5484

      Actually the name god particle came from the media not the physicists and other scientist who were trying to discover the particle. They called it the god damn particle because it is so hard to detect. Your argument is moot.

      July 6, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • notbridge

      So, if you can't concieve of a universe not created by some god-like being, then answer me this: "Who created God?". Imagining a God to create everything just moves the creation dilemma one step higher. Does God have a God that created Him? How about THAT God? Who created Him? It never ends....once you assume that a God created everything then there are just more Gods higher up the astral plane, so to speak. I prefer to assume there is no God and believe my five senses and intelligence.

      July 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
      • david

        I bet it is a giant fractal that keeps repeating itself forever. always has, always will. Can I prove that? No. Can anyone? Probably not. Does it matter? Not to me.

        July 6, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
      • Marty

        But you have the same dilemma and can be asked the same questions. Where did this 'primordial universe' come from? What caused the 'Big Bang" to happen? Where did the 'stuff' come from that composes our universe? You believe it was just there and I believe in a divine Creator.

        July 7, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Jaysun

      I think you misunderstand why they call it the "God" particle. The man who named the Higgs Boson finds calling the phrase "God" particle offensive to religious people, which judging by your sentiment, clearly demonstrates that.

      He originally called it the "goddam" particle because it was so hard to find. It was meant to be a joke but it was advertised as the "god" particle for marketing purposes. It actually has nothing to do with God. If you don't believe me, just look it up.

      July 6, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Jaysun

      I think you misunderstand why they call it the "God" particle. The man who named the Higgs Boson finds calling the phrase "God" particle offensive to religious people, which judging by your sentiment, clearly demonstrates that.

      He originally called it the "g.o.d.d.a.m." particle because it was so hard to find. It was meant to be a joke but it was advertised as the "god" particle for marketing purposes. It actually has nothing to do with God. If you don't believe me, just look it up.

      July 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  31. tet1953

    It will be funny if they find that due to Higg's a shadow does in fact have mass.

    July 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  32. Blue 19

    Looks like an innie belly button to me

    July 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  33. jaimie

    Very very awesome. And to think 100 years from now this information will be obsolete. Where will science be then.

    July 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Danno

      Pushed underground by religion, probably.

      July 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
      • Jerry

        Only in the US, the Vatican and all the fundementalist Islamic countries.

        July 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  34. repeater

    ROFLMAO

    July 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    Phil
    "I have a little atom, that goes in and out with me..." "The atom's shadow knows...bruhahahaha!" "Without an atom's shadow of a doubt..." "Its now the Atomic Shadow Age!...Yee Haw!" Does this also mean Atom-Ant can now see his shadow? I think the image was made on an Etch-A-Sketch! Are the rings around the dark (ripples) the electrons going around and round?? More funny comments please!!!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    vancouverron
    Still waiting for the first one.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Reply
    Phil
    "I have a little atom, that goes in and out with me..." "The atom's shadow knows...bruhahahaha!" "Without an atom's shadow of a doubt..." "Its now the Atomic Shadow Age!...Yee Haw!" Does this also mean Atom-Ant can now see his shadow? I think the image was made on an Etch-A-Sketch! Are the rings around the dark (ripples) the electrons going around and round?? Mor funny comments please!!!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    Rod C. Venger
    Maybe they should have imaged the actual atom instead.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
    STTM
    Individual Xenon atoms were imaged in 1989 and published in Science. It was the very first image of its kind and is still an awsome accomplishment.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    Andrew
    Since atoms are too small for a light wave lenghth to bounce off of, how is it possible for it to have a shadow?

    July 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    Phil from MD
    Here's some more info for those interested:

    http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5756/scientists-capture-world%E2%80%99s-first-atom-shadow

    July 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
    oussu
    Phil – the article you referenced is actual reporting. thanks. CNN, you suck.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Reply
    JJC
    Very interesting. I wonder what the shadow is being cast upon. Other atoms of some material? How exactly did they detect the shadow of an atom, more information please. Is it a large atom casting a shadow on a group of smaller atoms?

    July 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Reply
    Timetraveler
    It's a single atom. That much is certain. It is lazy journalism. At the very least they should have found out which atom it is.

    As for what it's being cast on, my guess is it's a similar technique to electron microscopy. A magnified shadow would be getting cast on a particle detector. I won't make a guess as to what kind of particle. Could be photons, could be electrons, or something more exotic.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    Stuff
    I think it would be a larger atom like Uranium. Many of you might think, well isn't that radioactive? Well, it is but it is not dangerous at all.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    Timetraveler
    Since when is the atom a "particle"?

    Must be summer intern season again.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    thebigmexi
    @Timetraveler– I was thinking the EXACT same thing. I can't take this write-up seriously after that first sentence.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    STTM
    Not all particles are subatomic. Google "particle, definition".

    July 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    Colin Morgan
    If you turn it sideways, you can see an image of the virgin mary.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    Lliam1306
    It does look like an @ with an "e" instead of an "a" with an echo.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Reply
    Lliam1306
    That's my toilet flushing after my out of character bender in celebration of geek nirvana. .

    July 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Reply
    There. Are. No. Gods!
    What an exciting time to live in! All these discoveries at once! Quick question. . . Where is the shadow picture of (insert name of made up god here)? Oh there isn't one? Hmmmm, perhaps that is because one does not exist. There are no gods!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Reply
    Timetraveler
    It's the shadow of the FSM. Finally proof of His existence. May his noodly appendage touch you. FSM be with you.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    who cares
    YES LOL

    July 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    Hmm..
    Are you trying to convince us?.....or just yourself?....

    July 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    Emeljay
    Atom gets EVEn.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    Evan
    I'm pretty sure this is actually the shadow of Sanjay Gupta's intellect.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    TheOriginalMe
    For sure a lot bigger than yours

    July 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    MikeForNewYawk
    Does this mean we get 6 more weeks of winter?

    July 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Reply
    who cares
    LOL

    July 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    sam
    Well done.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
    oussu
    6 billion more years for the cosmos.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    STTM
    More like 6 more years of funding for the Large Hadron Collider and it is well deserved.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Reply
    laughing horse
    Now that was funny!

    July 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    ArthurP
    So is the atom is a shadow of its former self.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    who cares
    It always amazes me how everyone knows what a stom is and what it is made of yet no one has ever seen one before. Its nice to see the shadow now lets see a real atom!

    July 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    ArthurP
    Google Images and you will see all kinds of pictures of atoms.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    StanD
    Yes, but aren't those pictures taken using electrons? This article here has very little detail. If it's a "shadow," that seems to imply that we can now capture how a single atom affects visible light. That would mean we can now see down to atomic level without using electrons.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    who cares
    thank you stan, I didn't think it needed to be explained but people have taken for granted that no one has visibly seen an atom we have just assumed what they look like and what they have in them though various diffrent means that we believe make sense. We should never forget that the atom as we know it is a theroy that is almost provable.

    "the only things humans have consistantly gotten right is the fact they have always been wrong" never be foolish enough to think that what our generation knows to be correct will be remain that way in the future. After all not that long ago everybody knew the sun travled around the Earth.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    AGuest9
    Stan, there are various devices used to image atoms, but because they almost always involve current or force, we haven't yet optically imaged individual atoms. One reason is that photons are given off and absorbed by electrons as they move between energy levels. So far, the two prevalent mechanisms for viewing atoms are as follows:
    Scanning Tunneling Microscopes show images of atoms on the surface of metals and semiconductors based on the electron current between the probe tip and the orbital clouds of the atoms, while Atomic Force Microscopy measures the mechanical deflection of the probe as it moves across the surface, rather than measuring the current. Therefore, AFM works on any material, not just conducting materials such as metals and semiconductors, however, because it may contact the materials, the probe tip can become contaminated or damaged, which is a significant drawback.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    AGuest9
    *haven't yet optically imaged individual atoms in detail.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    Pppa
    It is an absorption image, showing "how much light (or information) is absent in the presence of an object". Read the Cosmos article, not this CNN dribble...

    http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5756/scientists-capture-world%E2%80%99s-first-atom-shadow

    July 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    Spaghetti Monster (Not to be confused with the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster)
    Photoshopped, I should know, I've been on the interwebz. And you can clearly see the pixels....

    July 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    james
    So what is it good for?

    July 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    Rod C. Venger
    Aaaabsolutely nothing! Say it again!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
    STTM
    It is evidence of physical properties that were mere speculation until the data were acquired. That makes it very good as many things that affect our societies such as religions have vanishingly little proof of their very foundation concepts. I believe in the verified properties of matter. I do NOT believe in the concept of gods, which have never been demonstrated in actual form or to have ever cast a shadow. Perhaps the technology doesn't exist yet to gather those data but I'm not expecting that to happen.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Reply
    snowdogg
    Yup... sure looks like an atom shadow to me.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply

    July 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  35. repeater

    who cares
    YES LOL

    July 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    Hmm..
    Are you trying to convince us?.....or just yourself?....

    July 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    Emeljay
    Atom gets EVEn.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    Evan
    I'm pretty sure this is actually the shadow of Sanjay Gupta's intellect.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    TheOriginalMe
    For sure a lot bigger than yours

    July 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    MikeForNewYawk
    Does this mean we get 6 more weeks of winter?

    July 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Reply
    who cares
    LOL

    July 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    sam
    Well done.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
    oussu
    6 billion more years for the cosmos.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    STTM
    More like 6 more years of funding for the Large Hadron Collider and it is well deserved.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Reply
    ArthurP
    So is the atom is a shadow of its former self.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    who cares
    It always amazes me how everyone knows what a stom is and what it is made of yet no one has ever seen one before. Its nice to see the shadow now lets see a real atom!

    July 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    ArthurP
    Google Images and you will see all kinds of pictures of atoms.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    StanD
    Yes, but aren't those pictures taken using electrons? This article here has very little detail. If it's a "shadow," that seems to imply that we can now capture how a single atom affects visible light. That would mean we can now see down to atomic level without using electrons.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    who cares
    thank you stan, I didn't think it needed to be explained but people have taken for granted that no one has visibly seen an atom we have just assumed what they look like and what they have in them though various diffrent means that we believe make sense. We should never forget that the atom as we know it is a theroy that is almost provable.

    "the only things humans have consistantly gotten right is the fact they have always been wrong" never be foolish enough to think that what our generation knows to be correct will be remain that way in the future. After all not that long ago everybody knew the sun travled around the Earth.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    AGuest9
    Stan, there are various devices used to image atoms, but because they almost always involve current or force, we haven't yet optically imaged individual atoms. One reason is that photons are given off and absorbed by electrons as they move between energy levels. So far, the two prevalent mechanisms for viewing atoms are as follows:
    Scanning Tunneling Microscopes show images of atoms on the surface of metals and semiconductors based on the electron current between the probe tip and the orbital clouds of the atoms, while Atomic Force Microscopy measures the mechanical deflection of the probe as it moves across the surface, rather than measuring the current. Therefore, AFM works on any material, not just conducting materials such as metals and semiconductors, however, because it may contact the materials, the probe tip can become contaminated or damaged, which is a significant drawback.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    AGuest9
    *haven't yet optically imaged individual atoms in detail.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    Pppa
    It is an absorption image, showing "how much light (or information) is absent in the presence of an object". Read the Cosmos article, not this CNN dribble...

    http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5756/scientists-capture-world%E2%80%99s-first-atom-shadow

    July 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    Spaghetti Monster (Not to be confused with the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster)
    Photoshopped, I should know, I've been on the interwebz. And you can clearly see the pixels....

    July 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    james
    So what is it good for?

    July 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    Rod C. Venger
    Aaaabsolutely nothing! Say it again!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
    snowdogg
    Yup... sure looks like an atom shadow to me.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply

    July 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  36. ttwom

    so we can smash atoms together and photograph the shadow but the premise is just a theory?????

    July 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Hugo

      ttwom, It's only a theory (to me) that you exist. Should only be a theory (to you) that I exist. So, yes, chemists study the "atomic theory" and not the "atomic fact."

      July 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • James

      You use the word theory, but I don't think you understand what it means.
      In science a theory is an explanation of the behavior or existence of something in the natural world. While a law may describe WHAT something does or is, there will be a THEORY to explain why it does that, or HOW it came to be.

      Here, for reference, this article from the National Academies of Science explains it well:

      http://www.nationalacademies.org/evolution/TheoryOrFact.html

      July 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  37. Jennifer

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307132216.htm

    3 months ago scientists in Ohio say they took a picture of an atom – Why is this "the first picture of an atom"?

    July 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • STTM

      Xenon atoms arranged to spell "IBM" were imaged and published in Science in 1989.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  38. Speak The Truth

    I thought that since the atom is smaller than the wave length of light it could not be seen. Perhaps a physicist reading this can help explain. Thanks.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • STTM

      Google "atomic force microscopy" and "scanning tunneling transmission electron microscopy". You have now been empowered.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
      • Speak The Truth

        thanks....will check it out

        July 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Ryan

      They're using electrons to "see" it, not photons of light.

      July 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  39. GoRemote

    The atom is a Ytterbium ion............

    July 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  40. AGuest9

    This was the Australian physics conference that was interrupted for the July 4th announcement by CERN. We all watched it live.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  41. jj

    we just dust in the wind, nothing to see here, please moved along

    July 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  42. Bored

    Looks like my colonoscopy picture

    July 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  43. David

    With that kind of detail, it could be a PIMPLE for all we know.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • cw

      It's a friggin' atom...! How detailed do you want it to be???

      July 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
      • shadowram

        ROFLMAO

        July 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
      • Hugo

        Well said and funny.

        July 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  44. Phil

    "I have a little atom, that goes in and out with me..." "The atom's shadow knows...bruhahahaha!" "Without an atom's shadow of a doubt..." "Its now the Atomic Shadow Age!...Yee Haw!" Does this also mean Atom-Ant can now see his shadow? I think the image was made on an Etch-A-Sketch! Are the rings around the dark (ripples) the electrons going around and round?? More funny comments please!!!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • vancouverron

      Still waiting for the first one.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  45. Phil

    "I have a little atom, that goes in and out with me..." "The atom's shadow knows...bruhahahaha!" "Without an atom's shadow of a doubt..." "Its now the Atomic Shadow Age!...Yee Haw!" Does this also mean Atom-Ant can now see his shadow? I think the image was made on an Etch-A-Sketch! Are the rings around the dark (ripples) the electrons going around and round?? Mor funny comments please!!!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  46. Rod C. Venger

    Maybe they should have imaged the actual atom instead.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • STTM

      Individual Xenon atoms were imaged in 1989 and published in Science. It was the very first image of its kind and is still an awsome accomplishment.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  47. Andrew

    Since atoms are too small for a light wave lenghth to bounce off of, how is it possible for it to have a shadow?

    July 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  48. Phil from MD

    Here's some more info for those interested:

    http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5756/scientists-capture-world%E2%80%99s-first-atom-shadow

    July 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • oussu

      Phil – the article you referenced is actual reporting. thanks. CNN, you suck.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  49. JJC

    Very interesting. I wonder what the shadow is being cast upon. Other atoms of some material? How exactly did they detect the shadow of an atom, more information please. Is it a large atom casting a shadow on a group of smaller atoms?

    July 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      It's a single atom. That much is certain. It is lazy journalism. At the very least they should have found out which atom it is.

      As for what it's being cast on, my guess is it's a similar technique to electron microscopy. A magnified shadow would be getting cast on a particle detector. I won't make a guess as to what kind of particle. Could be photons, could be electrons, or something more exotic.

      July 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
      • Stuff

        I think it would be a larger atom like Uranium. Many of you might think, well isn't that radioactive? Well, it is but it is not dangerous at all.

        July 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  50. Timetraveler

    Since when is the atom a "particle"?

    Must be summer intern season again.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • thebigmexi

      @Timetraveler– I was thinking the EXACT same thing. I can't take this write-up seriously after that first sentence.

      July 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • STTM

      Not all particles are subatomic. Google "particle, definition".

      July 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  51. Colin Morgan

    If you turn it sideways, you can see an image of the virgin mary.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  52. Lliam1306

    It does look like an @ with an "e" instead of an "a" with an echo.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  53. There. Are. No. Gods!

    What an exciting time to live in! All these discoveries at once! Quick question. . . Where is the shadow picture of (insert name of made up god here)? Oh there isn't one? Hmmmm, perhaps that is because one does not exist. There are no gods!

    July 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      It's the shadow of the FSM. Finally proof of His existence. May his noodly appendage touch you. FSM be with you.

      July 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • who cares

        YES LOL

        July 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        RAMEN BROTHER!!!

        July 7, 2012 at 6:52 am |
      • Sciguy73

        Pasta be upon Him. Garrrrr!

        July 7, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Hmm..

      Are you trying to convince us?.....or just yourself?....

      July 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Emeljay

      Atom gets EVEn.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  54. Evan

    I'm pretty sure this is actually the shadow of Sanjay Gupta's intellect.

    July 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • TheOriginalMe

      For sure a lot bigger than yours

      July 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  55. MikeForNewYawk

    Does this mean we get 6 more weeks of winter?

    July 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • who cares

      LOL

      July 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • sam

      Well done.

      July 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • oussu

      6 billion more years for the cosmos.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • STTM

      More like 6 more years of funding for the Large Hadron Collider and it is well deserved.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • laughing horse

      Now that was funny!

      July 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  56. ArthurP

    So is the atom is a shadow of its former self.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  57. who cares

    It always amazes me how everyone knows what a stom is and what it is made of yet no one has ever seen one before. Its nice to see the shadow now lets see a real atom!

    July 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Google Images and you will see all kinds of pictures of atoms.

      July 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
      • StanD

        Yes, but aren't those pictures taken using electrons? This article here has very little detail. If it's a "shadow," that seems to imply that we can now capture how a single atom affects visible light. That would mean we can now see down to atomic level without using electrons.

        July 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • who cares

        thank you stan, I didn't think it needed to be explained but people have taken for granted that no one has visibly seen an atom we have just assumed what they look like and what they have in them though various diffrent means that we believe make sense. We should never forget that the atom as we know it is a theroy that is almost provable.

        "the only things humans have consistantly gotten right is the fact they have always been wrong" never be foolish enough to think that what our generation knows to be correct will be remain that way in the future. After all not that long ago everybody knew the sun travled around the Earth.

        July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
      • AGuest9

        Stan, there are various devices used to image atoms, but because they almost always involve current or force, we haven't yet optically imaged individual atoms. One reason is that photons are given off and absorbed by electrons as they move between energy levels. So far, the two prevalent mechanisms for viewing atoms are as follows:
        Scanning Tunneling Microscopes show images of atoms on the surface of metals and semiconductors based on the electron current between the probe tip and the orbital clouds of the atoms, while Atomic Force Microscopy measures the mechanical deflection of the probe as it moves across the surface, rather than measuring the current. Therefore, AFM works on any material, not just conducting materials such as metals and semiconductors, however, because it may contact the materials, the probe tip can become contaminated or damaged, which is a significant drawback.

        July 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
      • AGuest9

        *haven't yet optically imaged individual atoms in detail.

        July 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
      • Pppa

        It is an absorption image, showing "how much light (or information) is absent in the presence of an object". Read the Cosmos article, not this CNN dribble...

        http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5756/scientists-capture-world%E2%80%99s-first-atom-shadow

        July 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  58. Spaghetti Monster (Not to be confused with the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster)

    Photoshopped, I should know, I've been on the interwebz. And you can clearly see the pixels....

    July 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  59. james

    So what is it good for?

    July 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Aaaabsolutely nothing! Say it again!

      July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • STTM

      It is evidence of physical properties that were mere speculation until the data were acquired. That makes it very good as many things that affect our societies such as religions have vanishingly little proof of their very foundation concepts. I believe in the verified properties of matter. I do NOT believe in the concept of gods, which have never been demonstrated in actual form or to have ever cast a shadow. Perhaps the technology doesn't exist yet to gather those data but I'm not expecting that to happen.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Rogue351

      Why did we go to the moon ? Why do any kind of science what so ever, whats it good for ? Really ? What is it good for. Lets put it this way if you cant see the potential and the advancement from something like this then there is no point what so ever trying to explain it to you. Go back to watching FOX News, listening to Beck and live your life. If you ever need any kind of advanced medical treatment just write it off as magic. Thats it think of it as magic and leave it at that. WOW !!

      July 7, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  60. snowdogg

    Yup... sure looks like an atom shadow to me.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

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