A new exhibition gallery of the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book opened with the display of "And Then There Was Nano: The Smallest Bible in the World", revealing to the public for the first time the world’s smallest copy of the Hebrew Bible.
Developed by the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion in Haifa, "And Then There Was Nano" showcases the incredible story of the world’s smallest Hebrew Bible etched onto a microchip no larger than a grain of sugar. The exhibition includes narrative presentations explaining the story behind the creation of the Nano Bible and details mediums through which the Hebrew Bible has been interpreted over time.
The Nano Bible serves as a contemporary complement to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest Biblical manuscripts in the world, providing audiences with a unique opportunity to examine the technological evolution of the Hebrew Bible from antiquity to the postmodern era. The exhibit is part of the year-long program celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Israel Museum.
What is the Nano Bible?
The Nano Bible is a gold-plated silicon chip the size of a pinhead on which the entire Hebrew Bible is engraved. The text, consisting of over 1.2 million letters, is carved on the 0.5mm2 chip by means of a focused ion beam. The beam dislodges gold atoms from the plating and creates letters, similar to the way the earliest inscriptions were carved in stone. The writing process takes about 90 minutes. The letters belong to a font unique to this technology and appear darker against their gold background. In order to read the text, it is necessary to use a microscope capable of 10,000 times magnification or higher.
Employing a modern incarnation of an ancient writing technique, this technological marvel demonstrates the wonders of present-day miniaturization and provides the spectator with a tangible measure of the achievable dimensions. Dense information storage is not unique to human culture: the blueprints of all organisms are stored by nature at even higher densities in long DNA molecules and transmitted in this form over generations.
The term "nano" derives from the Greek word nanos, meaning “dwarf.” The unit nanometer measures one billionth of a meter, a ratio similar to the size of an olive compared with the entire planet Earth. Nanotechnology makes it possible to construct new materials stronger and lighter than steel, to desalinate water more efficiently, to deliver medications to designated parts of the body without harming surrounding tissues, and to detect cancerous cells in early stages. At the dawn of the Nano Age, scientists and engineers are discovering ways to harness such exquisite control over the elementary building blocks of nature for the benefit of mankind and our planet.
The Nano Bible was conceived of and created by Prof. Uri Sivan and Dr. Ohad Zohar of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. It was made by engineers in the Sara and Moshe Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center and the Wolfson Microelectronics Research and Teaching Center. The first of two copies was presented by the former president of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, to Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Israel in 2009. The chip on display in the Israel Museum was produced especially for the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center of the Shrine of the Book.
And Then There Was Nano is co-curated by Dr. Adolfo Roitman, Lizbeth and George Krupp Curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Head of the Shrine of the Book, and Rotem Arieli, Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center, and was made possible through the generosity of the Russell Berrie Foundation.