The Most Sensitive Scale Can Weigh INDIVIDUAL PROTONS. My Fat Ass Would Break It.

How much does a proton weigh? Like five or six pounds, right? I’m kidding! I can’t remember high school but I can totally remember they’re like light. Maybe even really  light. Well now thanks to science we have a goddamn scale that can weigh them.


A new subatomic weight scale can measure masses as tiny as one yoctogram. Less than the mass of a proton, a yoctogram is equivalent to a billionth of a billionth of a millionth of a gram.

A yoctogram is so tiny that it’s effectively the endpoint of the metric system – there aren’t any prefixes to describe units smaller than it. Until now, the most sensitive scales could only determine an object’s mass to within 100 yoctograms. Admittedly, while 100 yoctograms is a perfectly decent margin of error for, well,  everything  we encounter in the world around us, at the atomic scale it’s a bit like giving your weight to within the nearest ten tons.

All these ultra-tiny scales rely on nanotubes, which will vibrate at a specific frequency depending on the mass of the particles resting on them. As  New Scientist  reports, improving these nanotubes in turn allowed for the creation of even more sensitive scales:

To go even lower, Adrian Bachtold and his colleagues at the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology in Barcelona, Spain, used short nanotubes. They give the best resolution and work at the low temperatures thought best for measuring frequency. Although the equipment was placed in a vacuum to minimise interference from other atoms, Bachtold removed any stray atoms by temporarily turning up the heat on the tubes to disrupt any bonds to atoms. Then the sensor was able to weigh an atom of xenon to the nearest yoctogram, or 10-24  grams. This makes it the first scale capable of detecting a single proton, which weighs in at 1.7 yoctograms.

A billionth of a billionth of a gram. Nanotubes. Surfing the present-future is so goddamn fun sometimes. Yet where is my teleportation device and my jet pack? Eh! Where the fuck are they?