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Book with pages the width of a human hair to feature in miniature book exhibition

University of Glasgow

Academics from the Universities of Glasgow and Cardiff have used cutting-edge technology to create a tiny version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

All 26,764 words of Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic have been transposed on to a tiny silicon chip, with each page just the width of a human hair.

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 the University of 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.

It can be seen on the first day only of an exhibition of miniature books, opening on Wednesday, July 10, thanks to the technological support of the University’s School of Physics.

Dr Fimi has curated an exhibition at the University of Glasgow’s Library to showcase the tradition of miniature books, from medieval to modern.

It will feature some of the tiny treasures held at the University’s Special Collections, including a miniscule 13th-century handwritten Bible on velum. Lewis Carroll was also a keen collector of miniature books. The exhibition will run until September.

Dr Fimi, a lecturer in Fantasy and Children's Literature at the University of Glasgow, 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.”

As part of the project, Dr Beggs and Dr Fimi have undertaken a number of outreach activities to promote their work, including a website that explores the technology behind the project and the inter-play of science and fantasy literature. 

They have also presented their work to schoolchildren and developed learning resources for teachers.



Tiny Alice

University of Glasgow

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