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Alice in Wonderland shrunk onto pages as wide as human hair

The tiny reproduction of Lewis Carroll's classic will feature in a miniature book exhibition.

Miniature: The classic book has been shrunk.
Miniature: The classic book has been shrunk.

A tiny reproduction of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been created by a team of academics, with each page the width of a human hair.

Glasgow University teamed up with Cardiff University to transpose all 26,764 words of Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic on to a tiny silicon chip.

The piece will help open an exhibition of miniature books in Glasgow.

The idea was conceived by Dr Daryl Beggs and Dr Dimitra Fimi, an expert in children’s fantasy literature who started working with Dr Beggs whilst working at Cardiff Metropolitan University before moving to Glasgow.

Tiny Alice, the result of a project supported by the Welsh Crucible, was created using a cutting-edge technology known as electron-beam lithography at Cardiff University’s Institute of Compound Semiconductors.

The piece can be viewed on the first day only of an exhibition of miniature books, opening on Wednesday at Glasgow University’s library.

Dr Fimi has curated the exhibition to showcase the tradition of miniature books, from medieval to modern and will feature tiny treasures held in the university’s Special Collections, including a miniscule 13th-century handwritten Bible on velum.

The project itself also takes on a small significance as Lewis Carroll was a keen collector of miniature books.

Dr Fimi has carried out research into people’s fascination with the miniscule in children’s literature – a theme that runs throughout Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – and has used the ‘Tiny Alice’ project to explore the ways in which such texts interact with science.

She said: “The aim of the ‘Tiny Alice’ project in collaboration with Cardiff University was to capture the public imagination, to encourage scientific innovation, and to highlight the ways in which the creative arts and science have often cross-pollinated and cross-fertilised each other.

“We want this project to inspire younger generations to consider the sciences and the humanities not as mutually exclusive fields, but as interwoven and inter-dependent.

“Just as the idea of miniaturisation links together in an exciting way a scientific field vital for economic progress with a literary text that continues to fascinate readers over 150 years after its original publication, so can science and the imagination work together to transform our lives and our futures.”


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