Physics Professor Ray Palmer was trying to find a way to reduce matter to aid farmers in increasing their crop yield, but in his studies in size reduction, the altered matter would always explode. Palmer finally found the secret to the problem in fragments of a white dwarf star that helped produce his reducing beam, though the objects continued to remain highly unstable. Sometime later, trapped in a cave with a group of students, Palmer turned the experimental beam on himself and saved the party from a sudden disaster. A combination of ultra violent rays, cave water, and his own physiology now mysteriously allowed the professor to safely reduce his six foot frame to even a subatomic size. Developing hand controls and a costume using the star matter, Palmer can control his weight and size, and fights crime in his new alter ego, The Atom. With his first appearance in DC Comics Showcase #34 in 1962, the Atom has learned to master his size controls to great advantage, including travelling through phone lines allowing electronic impulses to propel him, or even aid doctors in medical procedures coursing though a patients bloodstream to discover the cause of their malady.