Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Pet Atom

Mine's cuter than yours
  [vote for,

Now that physicists can trap and hold a single atom in a cold magnetic bottle, I propose that individuals be able to buy their very own pet atom. They could choose their favorite element, and the atom would come in the bottle with viewing ports (windows to you), and a laser with frequency tuned right at the atom's resonance frequency. Photons would be scattered at a rate of about 10^9 per second, making it easy to see the atom in a darkened room. By varying the magnetic fields in a tricksy way, the atom could be made to dance around in various patterns. If the atom has a lower-lying metastable state, the light scattering will blink on and off. This atom will have a lot more personality than the once-popular pet rocks or a Chia pet or even a Tamagotchi.

I believe such a Pet Atom would make an excellent sending off gift for a young person going off to read physics at Cambridge.

sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 17 2012

Photo of single trapped atom http://www.iontrap....ivedNews/index.html
actually its an ion, which is just a charged atom [sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 17 2012]

how to trap an anti-matter atom http://www.scientif...-alpha-1000-seconds
same as atom, only different [sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 18 2012]

A Boy and His Atom http://www.youtube....ULC7W4UpxFGArH7oD7i
stop-action movie with a pet atom as co-star [sqeaketh the wheel, May 01 2013]


       are you off to Cambridge [sqeaketh]?
po, Aug 17 2012

       Sounds like a nexcellent idea, but I have a horrible feeling that the smaller the item to be contained, the larger the apparatus required to do so. [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 17 2012

       //are you off to Cambridge?//
I had in mind MaxwellBuchanan's offspring, who recently was admitted to Cambridge physics.
sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 17 2012

       Cool in any case (no pun intended), but could you really get a single atom it to absorb and reemit enough, even tuning the illuminating beam to optimal frequency(s), to see it with a naked eye? Super-cool as that would be, I’m skeptical.
CraigD, Aug 17 2012

       //could you really get a single atom it to absorb and reemit enough//
Yes, see [link] for a Photo of single trapped atom. An atom can scatter one photon per radiative lifetime, which can be in the nanosecond range, so 10^9 times per second. If your eye or a camera can collect 10^3 of those per second, you can see it with the naked eye! That part is baked. The tricky bit is putting all the hardware into a small gift package, as [MB] said. If we could get say 1000 pre-orders, then economy of scale might make it possible. You can place your order at PetAtom.com, unless that site goes down again as it seems always to be.
sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 17 2012

       // grow your own avogadro //   

8th of 7, Aug 17 2012

       Has anyone figured out how to trap an anti-matter atom yet? ...and would it be called a mota?   

       Ionised antiHydrogen (antiProtons) can be contained quite nicely in your ordinary garden- variety magnetic bottle; you just need to attach the red wire to the black terminal, and vice versa.
8th of 7, Aug 17 2012

       //Has anyone figured out how to trap an anti-matter atom yet? //
Yep they did. See [link]. We are getting close to an anti-matter warp drive? Maybe not.
sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 18 2012

       Cooool. I will call mine Spot.   

       [+] of course.   

       Tamagotchi miniature black holes: stop feeding it and it evaporates; feed it too much and it eats the planet.
FlyingToaster, Aug 18 2012

       I would get Einsteinium and name it Albert.
sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 19 2012

       //attach the red wire to the black terminal   

       I thought it was the blue wire...dammit
not_morrison_rm, Aug 27 2012

       + very clever
leinypoo13, Aug 28 2012

       I like this, but I just know that as soon as I collect the complete set, the ALICE experiment at CERN will produce stable superpartners and I'll have to start all over again. [+]
Alterother, Aug 28 2012

       //Like fission a barrel.//
sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 31 2012

       IBM just released a stop-action movie with a pet atom as co-star. See link.
sqeaketh the wheel, May 01 2013

       [+] woo hoo - way to go [squeaketh]!! Sorry I missed this first time around.
Named mine Adam.
xandram, May 01 2013

       ASCII art of single trapped atom   

phundug, May 02 2013

       I had to perform surgery on mine. Here's its colon :
AusCan531, May 02 2013


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