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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Hollywood makes big movies like "Ironman 3" and smaller movies like "Beast Of The Southern Wild." But no one has ever seen a movie as small as the one just created by four scientists at IBM. It's called "A Boy And His Atom" and the team made it by moving around individual atoms on a surface cooled to minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

The image is 100 million times bigger than its actors. Our movie critic Bob Mondello has a special fondness for intimate stories, so we asked him to take a look.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: The boy in "A Boy and His Atom" is a connect-the-dots figure 26 atoms tall and seriously slender, with a little James Dean-ish forelock that flops around when he jumps. His adventures here are only a minute long and there's no dialogue, so we don't get to know him very well, but he seems a playful sort, dancing a little jig and bouncing his pet atom against the side of the screen in a game I guess you'd have to call hand atom.

We also see him being cautious, testing an atom trampoline before he jumps on it and we see him be trusting enough to let his little pet atom fly up to the clouds when they're not playing together. He'd make a mother proud, assuming he has a mother. These scientist filmmakers, pioneers in subatomic cinema, have basically done what 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge did when he came up with the images of a galloping horse that, when strung together, gave the appearance of movement and led to motion pictures.

Their other chief influence appears to have been the early computer game, Pong. For cineastes who just can't get enough of "A Boy and His Atom" in one minute, they've created a four and a half minute Making Of video.

ANDREAS HEINRICH: Now the sound you hear is the sound of the molecule following the tip along the surface.

MONDELLO: And also some still images from what is presumably the boy's bedroom wall, a molecule-sized Starship Enterprise for one intriguing kid, boldly going where no atom has gone before. Here's hoping he makes many a sequel. I'm Bob Mondello.

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