Vilnius Scientists Construct the World’s Smallest Nativity Scene and it’s Smaller than a Human Cell

Sometimes the most important and impressive things are invisible to the naked eye, but we all know that they are real and true. A team of scientists from Vilnius have made something that is invisible to the naked eye: a Christmas Nativity Scene that is smaller than a human cell. The project, nicknamed #nanojesus, has been submitted to the Guinness Book of Records as the world‘s smallest-ever Nativity Scene. Furthermore, the project has also become a special Christmas gift from the President of Lithuania to Pope Francis.

Each year, the holiday season at Vilnius’ Cathedral Square is marked not only by one of the most beautiful Christmas trees in the world, but also by the spectacular composition of the traditional Christmas Nativity Scene – the Holy Family, the Three Wisemen greeting the Holy Family, Shepherds and animals.

A team from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, joined by their colleagues from the Vilnius University Laser Centre and the private companies Femtika and Ideja 3D, made an exact replica of the traditional Vilnius Nativity Scene by reducing the original to nanoscale dimensions, making it invisible to the human eye. In this nanoscale, Baby Jesus is smaller than the average human cell, which has inspired the project nickname #nanojesus.

The nano-Nativity Scene has been submitted to the Guinness World Records by Go Vilnius, the city’s Tourism and Business Development Agency. Citizens and guests of Vilnius will soon be invited to take a look at this unique Nativity Scene at the Vilnius City Municipality.

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius congratulated the scientists and everyone involved in the project, saying, “This is truly a unique initiative, which playfully brings a message to the world about Vilnius’ creative potential and speaks to the talent of our scientists and their ability to understand and implement modern technologies.“

It took three months to make the nano-Nativity Scene. Students and scientists from VGTU, together with representatives from several private companies, combined three technological processes: 3D scanning, 3D modelling and 3D laser nano-printing. Their efforts resulted in the traditional Vilnius Cathedral Square Nativity Scene being reduced 10,000 times, making it smaller than a human cell.

It took the team many hours to carefully scan, model and replicate the original sculptures. This allowed them to 3D print the scene on a microscopic scale.

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė has since given the nano-Nativity Scene to Pope Francis as a Christmas gift on behalf of the entire country.

The project’s organisational partners include the Vilnius Archdiocese, Go Vilnius and Invest Lithuania.

“The nano-Nativity Scene is a great example of cooperation between science centres, government and municipal institutions and private companies,” said Go Vilnius Head Inga Romanovskienė. “The project sends a message to the world about Vilnius being a creative and open city,“

This project reflects Lithuania’s position as one of the global leaders in laser technology and promotes the opportunities and achievements of the country’s scientists, its high technology market, and the collaborative and cultural spirit of Vilnius’ academic community. Vilnius is an open city, both spiritually and technologically.

Throughout this joyous holiday season, we want to remind more and more people that the good deeds and feelings we share with one another are often invisible. Invisible but no less real, no less reliable and no less important to each and every one of us.

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