So tiny that it rests easily on a finger nail, an electric motor constructed by an Italian youth weighs less than an ounce. The Lilliputian power plant has forty-five Parts and develops about eight-one-thousandths of a horsepower.

  1. Jari says: February 3, 20121:14 pm

    Is it okay to call an electric motor “cute”?

  2. Hirudinea says: February 3, 20123:10 pm

    @ Jari – Why not, I don’t think you could call it useful.

  3. Stephen says: February 4, 20126:20 am

    @Hirindinea: You could make a very tiny train set that would fit in the palm of your hand!

  4. Nomen Nescio says: February 4, 20129:54 am

    reminds me of this video which we of course all saw linked on boingboing a while ago. worth watching twice, though.

  5. Kosher Ham says: February 4, 201212:18 pm

    Imagine, here is something years before nano technology really became big.

  6. Jeff says: February 4, 20121:44 pm

    here is something years before nano technology really became big…..thats like a quantum leap

  7. Stephen Edwards says: February 4, 20128:57 pm

    It was big long before nano. Much bigger. More like milli, which is a million times bigger.

  8. Hirudinea says: February 4, 201210:30 pm

    @ Stephen – True, but you’ed have to run it off a battery that wouldn’t fit in both hands.

  9. Casandro says: February 5, 20127:55 am

    This almost certainly is a fake.

    Why would it be so neatly made? Why would it have a tiny wiring diagram on the side? Why would it look like a large motor of that time scaled down? Wouldn’t you assume he’d choose some far simpler to manufacture form for it which would already be an amazing feat at that time, instead of not only building a running motor, but also doing some model making.

    I’d say this is either a simple model which does not work, or its a manipulated photograph, which even back then was trivial to make.

  10. Nomen Nescio says: February 5, 20129:10 am

    Casandro, there are in fact people who take a personal pride and delight in creating exactly this sort of seemingly pointless items. try watching that video i linked to; there’s no more “point” to that little work of art, yet there it runs. it may be one of those things where if you need it explained to you, you’ll never understand.

  11. BO BABBYO says: February 6, 201212:36 am

    Agree with Nomen — it’s probably legit.

    I do wonder, though — since they compare its size to that of a fly — does eight one-thousandths of a horsepower equal one FLY power?

  12. Casandro says: February 6, 201212:40 am

    Simply put the technology most likely wasn’t there yet. If it was, there probably would have been a _lot_ of applications for that.

    It’s like if today, someone would show you a 30 cm holographic monitor. The technology just isn’t there yet, and unless you have access to your own chip factory which can make flawless wavers, it’s impossible.

  13. Charlie says: February 6, 20127:46 am

    Casandro » Actually in 1959 Richard Feynman made a $1000 bet that no one could create an electric motor that was 1/64″ on a side. This was part of his early push for nanotech and he thought some sort of breakthrough would be required. He lost when a guy named William McLellan built one conventionally.

    Of course nowadays we can build a motor from a single molecule.

  14. Jari says: February 6, 201212:21 pm

    Casandro: Yes the technology was there. Making an electric motor that small was/is well within capabilities of a watchmaker. Thinnest enameled wires for coils that I’m aware of are only 0.04mm in diameter.

  15. Davo says: February 6, 20123:15 pm

    I would say you would get a few of these to an ounce!!

    Also eight one-thousandths of a horsepower works out at about 6 Watts, and I doubt very much a motor that small could handle that sort of power without burning out VERY quickly!!!

  16. Jari says: February 6, 20124:21 pm

    Output power seems to be exaggerated, or the horses at that time were very weak… Anyway, here’s a small article about some other miniature motors made in thirties:


  17. Davo says: February 8, 201210:41 am

    The power rating could be a typo, instead of eight one-thousandths of a horsepower, they could of meant one eight-thousandth, which sounds a more realistic power rating for a motor of that size.

  18. Jari says: February 8, 20123:22 pm

    Possibly. Or fractions were expressed differently at that time and they really did meant 1/8000 hp, as you said.

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