Noah squeezed pairs of every creature on Earth into his ark. A miracle helped the Maccabees stretch one day’s worth of oil to last eight days. And now scientists have etched the 1.2 million letters of the Old Testament onto a disk no larger than the tip of a pen.
They’re calling it the Nano Bible and reading it would require an electron microscope.
The teeny tiny text started as an experiment in miniaturization, to see how much data can be stored in very, very small spaces.
Scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa created a layer of silicon less than 100 atoms thick, then plated it in gold. Then they used a focused ion beam to engrave the 1.2 million characters, one at a time, blasting away the gold to reveal the darker silicon beneath.
If you want to check the work, you’d have to magnify the font about 10,000 times.
The Bible is now on display as part of the Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary exhibition. It sits next to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have some of the same text but those scrolls are about 2,000 years old.
“Our objects begin a million-and-a-half years ago. They come to the present,” said James Snyder, president of the museum. “They cross that timeline and they go around the globe, and in a way, they represent the entire narrative of material cultural history from a place as important to that history as Jerusalem is.”
The Nano Bible is a new way to look at history, combining the ancient words that never change with modern technology that is always changing.