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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/The Tiniest Thinker

Air Date: Week of

Rodin probably wasn’t thinking on this scale when he created his famous sculpture “The Thinker.” Paige Doughty reports.



DOUGHTY: Picture this: You’re are at an art museum following signs to see the latest replica of Auguste Rodin’s famous statue, “The Thinker.” You know, the athletic male figure seated on a rock, his chin pressed into a clenched fist.

The sign says it’s here, can you see it? Look a little closer. Still nothing? Well, it’s not surprising. The latest replica of “The Thinker,” measures in at 20 millionths of a meter high or 2 times the size of a red blood cell.

Researchers at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, have crafted this microscopic version of Rodin’s sculpture with a new laser technique that has solved a decade old problem in creating elaborate three-dimensional models. Previously, scientists, employing single laser beams, tried to include fine details on the sensitive resin material used for the creations. But the technique caused the resin to fall apart. The Korean Researchers used multiple beams, focused on and below places on the surface of the resin. This method allowed them to include greater detail when micro-sculpting. Scientists say the new technique could be used to develop microscopic devices for a variety of fields.

Rodin, himself, was known for mechanically reproducing his sculptures in different scales; the original 1880 “Thinker” was 28 inches high. Almost a decade later it was reduced to 14 3/4 inches, and then enlarged to about six feet. The latest Korean replica is 93,000 times smaller than the six-foot version. Perhaps the artist would have liked to ponder that. That’s this week’s note on Emerging Science. I’m Paige Doughty



"World's Tiniest Sculpture"


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