Logo carved onto human hair

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Boing Boing Gadgets' Joel Johnson was at McMaster University yesterday where he met a researcher who used a focus ion beam microsocope to carve his school's logo on a human hair. I would love one for my wunderkammer! More info over at BBG. Link


  1. Isn’t that a little difficult to prove? The above picture looks like a simple watermark.

  2. Next: hair follicles gengineered to have the corporate logo of the gengineering company on them naturally.

  3. Future copyright nightmare – your hair stylist puts their corporate logo on your finished hair style. Therefore they own it and you are forbidden to alter it.

  4. OT9,
    I think you’re right. The logo doesn’t follow the contour of the hair. Photoshop or GIMP did it, not a focused-ion beam.

  5. @4: OMG, my thoughts precisely. Now all they need is that device that can zoom in and around things in a photograph.

  6. Are you crazy? Advertisers have been dying to get a foothold in the pediculus demographic.

  7. Of course it’s real. The ion beam would be move on a flat plane, so even though it’s cutting onto a curved surface, it appears flat. Don’t expect it to curve around like shrink wrap packaging.

  8. The fact that it is planar leads more to its authenticity anyway. The only way to have it mill “correctly” into a curved or cylindrical surface is to adjust the final lens voltage proportional to the curvature of the surface. A LEO (Zeiss) FIB cant easily do this.

  9. #15: Or account for the curvature ahead of time and adjust the source image accordingly (compressing the image along y-axis for the distant surfaces) so the final projected image is milled “correctly.”

  10. #18: They would need a way to secure the hair and move it with precision underneath the beam, like a laser printer. It’s probably mechanically easier right now to just fix the hair in position and just move the beam instead.

  11. @14, Oh yeah, I mean, surely no one would could possibly doubt the unprovable statement of science here. Why, they just discovered a planet light years away that may be less than 2000 years old. With their portable inverse-dichromium deflector array. Aligned with the flux variance tachyon particle stream within twelve microns.

  12. Please look at “I suck at photoshop” episode 106 where we try to duplicate this ion beam carving.

    P.S. I really do suck at Photoshop. But it’s the thought that counts right?

  13. This isn’t fake. These are a dime a dozen. I think its the first thing students attempt to do when they train on the FIB and find out that you can mill stream files.

  14. Not fake, but very easy to do – the system I use you can just take a RGB bitmap, load it in as a pattern file, and run it. As Iguanoid says, there is barely a lab where these instruments haven’t been used to put down the company or university logo.

    This image looks flat and uncontoured as it is being imaged by the ion beam that was used to write it – if they’d tilted the sample slightly after writing and before imaging (or used an electron beam to image in a dual beam system), then you’d have seen the distortion of the pattern due to the surface morphology of the hair it was written on.

  15. I go to school at Mac, but I’m only a lonely English undergrad. Still I can comfirm to you that this is real and that McMaster will sink to all new lows if it means more money for the business.

  16. I went to McMaster. Sure, they can do this, but they whine and moan over providing three new computers to the Humanities department.

    I’m a little bitter, yes.

  17. I’d say these particular images are shooped. The second image appears to be a watermark because of the angle of the logo relative to the cropping of the picture and the hair itself. I don’t doubt that people have done it, but I think these are simulations.

  18. #29 haha so true.
    And it has only gone down hill. Now the humanities is so dire that instead of 4 seminars in honours English it is down to 3 since there are not enough courses offered.

    I am very bitter. Only 1 more year :S

  19. @29, 32 Generally it’s not the University providing the money for the sciences, but an external organization (NSF, DOD, etc). You just need to figure out how to sell your humanities studies to the military.

    Only half joking.

  20. http://xkcd.com/331/ seems sort of relevant here.

    Generally, scientists are loath to publish things that are faked, as a community, we don’t take it well when we discover it, eg the case of Jan Hendrik Schon.

    Those images are not particularly difficult to make (for real) with FIB.

    What I always find amusing is the misplaced credulity on the internet – this gets doubted, but people want to think that the latest perpetual motion machine might just work.


  21. There’s an old tale about American Scientists in the 19th Century who were so proud of their tiny wire, they sent it to Germany.

    The German scientists sent it back with a hole in it.

  22. I’ll bet that Arab language and culture studies could get you some funding from the military!

    You just have to be a little imaginative!

    /I thought that’s what you humanities types were good at. Pbbbbbtttt!

    /Physics-Math major

  23. #36

    Culture studies is doing okay, but literature is going way downhill. They are not even offering science fiction until 4th year.

    Even as a Physics-Math major I am sure you can appreciate fine lit like Cory Doctorow.

  24. Dude, it’s Photoshopped. You can tell by the pixels. I’ve seen a few ‘shops in my day, and I can tell ya, trust me. :P

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