This is a gallery of tiny 'nanoflowers' grown on the surface of pennies and glass by engineers at Harvard University. They're not actually flowers though, they just look like them. In reality they're microscopic bits of carefully grown crystals. "Like meth." Exactly like meth.
To get a sense of just how small these flower sculptures are, grab a penny and flip it on its back. Right in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial, you'll see a faint impression of Abraham Lincoln. These roses would make a perfect corsage for the president's jacket lapel.
The flowers sprout up spontaneously when a glass plate is dipped into a beaker filled with silicon and minerals (specifically, barium chloride). Then Wim Noorduin at Harvard coaxes the salts to spiral and swirl into smooth, curvaceous shapes, like vases, leaves and petals.
He sculpts the stems and blossoms by slightly tweaking the environment in which the crystals grow. Lowering the temperature makes the petals thicker. Bursts of carbon dioxide send ripples through the leaves and blossoms.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? "Give your girlfriend a penny and say you grew her a nanogarden on it even though you just found it tails-up on the sidewalk?" What? No! Well yes, but damn it sounds pretty shitty when you say it out loud.
Hit the jump for a bunch more.
Thanks to Melissa, who agrees an invisible bouquet is a genius idea and we're going to make a fortune on it like those pet rocks.