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The Sharpest Object Ever Made

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the not-as-sharp-as-my-wit dept.

304

ultracool writes "Forget the phrase 'sharp as a tack.' Now, thanks to new University of Alberta research, the popular expression might become, 'sharp as a single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation.' Maybe it doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, but considering the researchers have created the sharpest object ever made, it would be accurate."

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The birth of a new acronym: (5, Funny)

dubmun (891874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705364)

single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation: SATFBCASCFE. Sharp as a SATFBCASCFE... hmmm maybe not.

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705399)

chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporated tip cascfet a bit easier.

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (3, Funny)

dubmun (891874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705430)

pronounced KASK-feht? I like it!

You are sharp as a CASCFET!

Oblig - (4, Funny)

caffeinatedOnline (926067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705706)

I for one welcome our new chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporated tip overlords... hmmm... that doesn't roll off the tongue well, now does it?

Re:Oblig - (4, Funny)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705759)

No, but it does sound more terrifying. Big words scare people.

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705462)

What will it be as sharp as when they make a super hard iridium tip?
 

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (0, Troll)

__michikal (959040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705799)

Super hard tip? You mean a penis, right?

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (1)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705536)

Not as sharp as your wit apparently.

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705640)

or...

"Single Tip of Atom By Field (Assisted & Controlled) Evaporation)

STABFACE

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (4, Funny)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705675)

How about

SCAT-CAFE

Spacially Controlled Atom Tip by Chemically Assisted Field Evaporation.

I think it might dooo fine so long as nobody digs up the meaning of scat.

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705748)

SCAT-CAFE

That plus it adds the punchline to, "Where do dung-beatles go for a light meal?"

Re:The birth of a new acronym: (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705763)

That'll just make people think of kopi luwak [wikipedia.org] .

Act Now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705732)

And we'll throw in this rubber jar opener. Operators are standing by...

Nitrogen? (5, Funny)

m_chan (95943) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705370)

"they were able to coat peripheral atoms near the peak with nitrogen"

Nitrogen?? That chunk who wears a dress-size seven? She sneezes crisco. Sharp? Yeah, like a marble. Wake me up when we get to Kate Moss waif-like Hydrogen. Then I can carve my initials on tubby Boron.

Re:Nitrogen? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705420)

At first I thought you were on acid. Then I took a sip of coffee and saw the genius in your statements. Well done.
 

Re:Nitrogen? (1)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705456)

I agree, as does my mug. Three cheers.

Too complicated (4, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705375)

Forget the phrase 'sharp as a tack.' Now, thanks to new University of Alberta research, the popular expression might become, 'sharp as a single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation.

How about, "sharper than a tack?"

Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Pardon me but, (2, Funny)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705519)

I didn't think that anyone believed that a tack was the 'sharpest', needles are well know to be very sharp as well. Personally, I think the phrase that I will be forgetting is "sharp as a single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation.", as no other items will be as sharp as it, and I'd have few uses for it.

I know the submitter is tring to be whitty, but I'd have to use 'sharp as a bowling ball' to describe his attempt. Surely there must have been a better way of announcing this break-through, like "Do you want you pastrami cut thin!".

Sharper than my +5 Vorpal Sword? (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705744)

Sure, this tip is sharp. But keep in mind that it's NOT made of silver. It won't do JACK against the undead.

-Eric

I bet (0, Redundant)

rtyall (960518) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705378)

It's not as sharp as the rapier wit you see on here everyday. Ba-boom Tish.

Re:I bet (2, Informative)

surdsforme (988433) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705517)

from the not-as-sharp-as-my-wit dept.

Still not as sharp as... (3, Funny)

MikeB0Lton (962403) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705379)

...Chuck Norris

Re:Still not as sharp as... (3, Funny)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705801)

I don't know what's more funny: the fact that this comment appears modded as "Insightful", the fact that 30% Funny, 30% Overrated and 20% Troll combine for an "Insightful" rating, or the fact that the three moderation categories don't add to 100%.

Get dull? (3, Interesting)

imboboage0 (876812) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705382)

Well over time knives get dull from use. unless I'm mistaken, this one atom could easily break off, right? Wouldn't it be instantly dull?

Re:Get dull? (1)

surdsforme (988433) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705414)

blunt even

Re:Get dull? (5, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705415)

Well over time knives get dull from use. unless I'm mistaken, this one atom could easily break off, right? Wouldn't it be instantly dull?

As long as it is only used to poke really soft, non-abrasive things, you should be good to go.

Of course, some nay-sayers might ask why you would ever need The Sharpest Object Ever Made to poke holes in chocolate pudding, but who needs that kind of negativity?

Re:Get dull? (1)

prefect42 (141309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705800)

It's not always a problem that they blunt. Using glass blades to make slides for electron microscopy makes *seriously* sharp knives but they're so fragile you use them as disposables. http://bomi.ou.edu/bmz5364/making-knives.html [ou.edu]

Re:Get dull? (1, Interesting)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705437)

I don't think it would be very easy to just "break off" (you're talking about powerful electron-proton bonds). You could try and get the atom to bond with another atom... but it already has a pretty cozy home. A knife made of this would probably be pretty bendy at the blade... but it would still have a mean cut!

Re:Get dull? (5, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705442)

Well over time knives get dull from use. unless I'm mistaken, this one atom could easily break off, right? Wouldn't it be instantly dull?

"Such a pointy pyramid of metal atoms would normally just smudge away spontaneously..." I'll let you actually RTFA for the hilarious, biting conclusion.
 

Re:Get dull? (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705454)

That's my biggest quesetion. Sharp is nice, but sharp and hard is what you need. Dislocating a single atom should be easy, unless these are some sort of super-close-packed. But, it sounds like the nitrogen coating is on the outside, so I'm wondering how tight the structure could be.

Re:Get dull? (4, Informative)

RobertNotBob (597987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705677)

from TFA, they are planning on using it for an electron emitter in an electron microscope.

In THAT application, the small size of the point is of great advantace without ever physically touching anything.

Aleut harpooner (5, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705386)

It sounds like science is catching up with the glass blades Raven carries in Neal Stephenson's book Snow Crash [wikipedia.org] .

Dmitri "Raven" Ravinoff -- An Aleut native who works as a mercenary. His preferred weapons are glass knives - undetectable by security systems and reputed to be molecule-thin at the edges - and throwing spears. He travels on a motorcycle whose sidecar has been replaced with a hydrogen bomb that will automatically detonate if his heart stops beating.

On another technicality, isn't pencil lead actually made up of sheets a single molecule thick?

We could arm minjas [askaninja.com] (midget ninjas) with these molecular spears and graphite shurikens to make the real ultimate killing power even more ultimaterer.

Re:Aleut harpooner (1)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705443)

I think you are mistaking molecule (at least two atoms joined together) for atom. His blades in the book were very sharp glass that was 1 sheet of molecules thick. This point is 1 atom, that's by definition sharper.

Re:Aleut harpooner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705512)

That's why he said science is 'catching up', not 'caught up'.

Re:Aleut harpooner (2, Informative)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705740)

Actually, if you bothered to think before replying you would have realized that science has not only caught up but has also surpassed the book since an ATOM is smaller than a MOLECULE.

Re:Aleut harpooner (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705541)

Actually graphite sheets (graphene) a single atom thick [theregister.co.uk] have been created.
When you rub out your pencil lines [newscientist.com] , you create small amounts of these sheets which are typically multi layered but can be seperated.

Reaper Man (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705567)

It sounds like science is catching up with the glass blades Raven carries in Neal Stephenson's book Snow Crash

I prefer the scythe Death wields in the Diskworld books, so delicate it can havest the soul of a deep-sea organism, yet able to harvest a field of wheat, one straw at a time. And he tries to sharpen the blade with everything even sun light, but it is still far to dull for the job when he must confront his replacement.

any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic

Re:Aleut harpooner (0)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705674)

We could arm minjas (midget ninjas) with these molecular spears and graphite shurikens to make the real ultimate killing power even more ultimaterer.

Just goes to prove that Minjas can be totally short AND totally awesome!

Re:Aleut harpooner (2, Informative)

Elvis Parsley (939954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705711)

Um...we (that is, humanity) have been making blades like that for millenia. The knives Raven uses in Snowcrash are simply flaked stone tools, a technology which appeared in the Upper Paleolithic. Their major drawback is that they lose their edge quickly when used, but they're nigh-trivial to make if you've got a lump of obsidian or other cryptocrystaline material. Eye surgeons were starting to use stone blades a few decades ago, though their use has been superceded by lasers.

Re:Aleut harpooner (2, Interesting)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705798)

Microtome [wikipedia.org] blades for Transmition Electron Microscopy are either made from cracked glass (cheap & disposable, but I used to do 2 or 3 at a pop to get one with a clean break) or gemstone (emerald, saphire, and diamond) cleaves (longer lasting but fragile and pricy).
Oh and for nigh-trivial - check out National Geographic segments on this - it's a bitch & a half to get a consistant & usable blade (something sharp to accidently cut yourself with appears much easier).

Sharp? (4, Funny)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705396)

I won't be impressed until they split the atom. Now THAT will be a shiny pin.

rubbish (-1, Troll)

elmuhfuh (942644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705403)

these people have never seen my dick.

Re:rubbish (3, Funny)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705455)

these people have never seen my dick.
The end of your dick is as tiny as a nitrogen atom? That's hardly something to brag about...

Informative? (0, Offtopic)

Lordpidey (942444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705620)

WTF? Who the hell rated that informative?

Re:rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705650)

Neither have you I guess...

Next up... (0)

DaveM753 (844913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705404)

The Sharpener!

Obligatory... (-1, Troll)

zenmojodaddy (754377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705421)

Sharper than YO MOMMA!

Re:Obligatory... (0, Offtopic)

DeionXxX (261398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705680)

I belive it should be:

Sharper than yo momma's KNEES.

super-fine electron microscope (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705431)

Now that we can use these to apparently make a super-hi-fi electron microscope, maybe we can use them in the electron guns of TV's and create super Xtreme HD! I for one welcome our potentially ever-changing HD format overlords.

Tacks? How about the devil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705432)

I'm more in favour of "as sharp as the devil himself", but you know...with our PC society we have to settle with tacks...how dull! (Pun intended!)

Ancient tools/weapons were close (2, Informative)

SatanClauz (741416) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705435)

I remember watching a documentary on Discovery or History about the technique of chipping the edges on weapons and tools created molecule sharp blades.

they didn't need all that research and science, just a couple rocks! ;)

Make it available... (1)

blindbug (979761) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705448)

Now they need to make knives out of it and have Ron Popeil [popeilfamilystore.com] endorse it! "For a limited time, I will throw in a Poultry Cooker Ray-Gun. And all for only 13 easy payments of $2,234.99!"

Re:Make it available... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705499)

Shocked stereotype German: "Finer than our German monomolecular tungsten tips?"

But HOW Sharp?? (2, Insightful)

bigtimepie (947401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705449)

Can it penetrate virtually any material? Does it dull after use? Will it be publicly available?

Re:But HOW Sharp?? (1)

joper90 (669321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705466)

The question you really want to ask is:
will ninjas use it?

Re:But HOW Sharp?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705550)

Do you really WANT it to become publicaly available?

As Seen On TV! (1)

radiumhahn (631215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705458)

It slices! It dices! Watch as it cuts through this ... oops lost a thumb!

Re:As Seen On TV! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705769)

Remeber to save the gizard, and use it to stop the bleeding.... Damn I'm old....

Time to upgrade my (1, Funny)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705465)

rapier like wit, to "sharp as a single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation" like wit.

If it's that sharp ... (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705468)

... it won't so much roll off the tongue as slice right through it.

The old saying... (1)

bigtimepie (947401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705469)

I never thought the old saying was any good anyways... There's just too many different tacks in the world! I always ended up clarifying.

"Man, you're sharp as a tack! ...a sharp tack, that is!"

Re:The old saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705697)

I've always gone with "Xer than an X man's X bits", for any adjective X :-)

AC

Accurate? (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705476)

How is saying that something which is not the sharpest object ever made is 'sharp as a single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation' in any way "accurate"? I'd wager that the sharpness of whatever you're comparing is a lot closer to the sharpness of a tack than it is to a single atom tip.

Even the tack is too sharp (1)

mcguiver (898268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705483)

to describe most people that I know

Let me know (1)

27,000 (987534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705486)

when they've created something better than a monofilament whip. 10S is good, but we need something that keeps up with troll melee.

Cyberpunk weapons (3, Funny)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705498)

Cool! now I can get myself a monokatana!!

Bread (2, Funny)

certel (849946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705502)

Does it still squish the bread?!

Sharp enough? (1)

CPNABEND (742114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705509)

So, does this mean it is sharp enough to get the wrapper off of a CD?

OK, I tried to cut... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705518)

...the cheese with it, but it passed right through it!

TSA rule update (1)

ThunderJon (900695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705531)

* Passengers may not have on the person cargo with atomic or subatomic slicing capabilities or any other nitrogen coated particles. "tough protective paint job" - I'm wondering if I can get some of these in my favorite NFL team colors.

Until I can shave with it... (1)

smackdotcom (136408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705546)

...I don't want to hear about it. Mind that expect that sharp a razor to come with safety wires, cause I'm not going to be able to fork out for skin transplants after Gillette charges me, what, three million dollars for this sort of thing by the time it hits the market.

Re:Until I can shave with it... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705719)

That was my first thought as well! How long until I can be stubble free with out razor burn!?!?

-Rick

Re:Until I can shave with it... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705754)

Oh, you can shave with it, you just have to have a delicate touch and be patient enough to shave each whisker one molecule at a time.

Nothing is sharper than... (1)

TrueKonrads (580974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705551)

Nothing is sharper than Sharpie!
Or a witty saying...

Not Sharp Enough to..... (1)

csavage (22371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705552)

Take down the Black Knight.

Ok, that is sharp, but... (2, Insightful)

bicho (144895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705556)

... Does it cut?

The Subtle Knife (0, Offtopic)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705557)

Call me when the edge cuts through to another universe.

(Just finished reading the dark materials series. Terribly disappointing, I must say. Started with a bang and finished with a whimper. Hell, I'm a big fan of bittersweet endings, but this one was just pitiful and frayed)

Here's my question... (0, Offtopic)

T_ConX (783573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705562)

Could it run Linux?

According to Mick Dundee... (4, Funny)

teknopagan (912839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705568)

That's not a knife...

A Subtle Knife (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705578)

So is this Philip Pullman's Subtle Knife [wikipedia.org] then?....I look forward to being able to skip between dimensions...oh no what happened to my little finger :-)

Picture! (5, Funny)

the_mind_ (157933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705581)

Here is a picture.
5M x amplification

        .

The sharpest object has already been discovered (1, Offtopic)

asoukup (35436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705588)

The sharpest object is a fart - it cuts through your pants without leaving a mark.

Second sharpest object catching up quickly (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705627)

The second sharpest object, Ann Coulter's cheek bones, seems to be getting more and more honed by the week. Those University of Alberta researchers better work quickly to keep the lead.

Sharp, meet pointy. (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705644)

I don't know, i just can't think of a tack as sharp.
When i think 'sharp' i think razor blades, maybe a scalpal, something with an edge, not a point.
For things like tacks and needles i prefer the term 'pointy'.

Okay a needle....useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705651)

What would be a legitimate use for such a thing?

Now if they could make the worlds sharpest blade...

Now if only... (1)

supra (888583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705660)

...I can get my lownmower blade to be that sharp...

Scanning Tunneling Electron Microscope (3, Informative)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705665)

The STM [nobelprize.org] uses a stylus with a single-atom tip and is about a decade old. IIRC it's a carbon atom.

Buck Rogers (1)

McD!ck (444861) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705671)

Reminds me of playing Buck Rogers Countdown to Doomsday and weilding a Nano Sword.

Super thin. (3, Funny)

Soygen (911358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705672)

It's the greatest thing since atomically-thin sliced bread.

But... (3, Funny)

NickeB (763713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705703)

Can it cut through armor and still slice a tomato?

Um, Yeah, That's Funny... (4, Funny)

Doomedsnowball (921841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705726)

From TFA: These sharp tips are needed for making contact with metals or semiconductors as well as for the manipulation and examination of atoms, molecules and small particles. Ultrafine tips are demanded for future experiments where the results are directly dependent on shape of the tip.

This is HUGE news in the nano scanning tunnel microscope world! Combined with the ability to determine an electrons spin, this could really open up new research results in a lot of fields. Good to see so many comedians on /. Lotta sharp wits.

I remember.. (1)

Ricken (797341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705738)

When I was a kid I used to think that if my sword was sharpened enough so that there would only be 1 atom at the tip, it would be as sharp as the anti-robocop-ninjas' swords.
Umm, how sharp exactly is this thing? Does it cut through steel easily? Or is it like, too soft?

Microsoft should have a look to that (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705742)

How?! Sharper event that C#? Let's kill it...

got one!!! (1)

JaJ_D (652372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705743)

*waves it around*

*drops it on desk*

Ah crap, anyone got a spare one.... ;-]

Jaj

And the point would be? (1)

raalynthslair (759150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705773)

And what would be the point of having a 1-atom wide object again? Let's face it, it's not practical or excessively useful to us (Ok, don't rant about "future potential" of this just yet... Really now? Do you think that this will REALLY make a significant difference in anything, other than the bragging rights of those that made this "breakthrough"...) More imporant in my mind isn't the sharpness but the hardness. If it is sharp enough to slice through anything in existence but has the rigidity and frailty of, say, an egg-shell... it'd be useless anyway. ^_^ Again, I ask (with full pun intended), "What's the point?"

Noo.... (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705774)

<Blackadder>That would be my wit.</Blackadder>

Nemesis from Alpha Flight/Marvel Comics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15705775)

Looks like science is once again catching up with comic books. There was a character in the Alpha Flight series that had a sword that was 1 atom thick and could cut through anything by just pushing the molecules apart.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_(Marvel_Comic s) [wikipedia.org]

or how about... (4, Funny)

WheresMyDingo (659258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705797)

"sharp as SOAP" where SOAP is Sharpest Object At Present. Then even if something sharper comes along, you don't have to change your phrase, because it is so highly abstracted from the hardware that it hardly means anything anymore.

The Real question is .... (0)

ems2004 (814056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15705806)

Does it run Linux?
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