Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Scientific awe

Just a few weeks ago, I was astonished when I saw pictures of molecules for the first time, where you could pick out roughly where the atoms would be. A level of resolution that's never existed before, and a level of detail I was told would be a pipe dream. But then a group went out and got pictures of individual molecules. I was in awe of how beautifully elegant it was. I know no words in either language to express sufficient amazement.

Now, another group has outdone them. They've imaged individual atoms.  

Think of the smallest thing you can think of. Then divide it in half. Then divide that in half. And do that fifty times. You're still probably too big for this. This picture is of something so tiny, so incredibly small, that it's impossible to appreciate just how small it is. It's a weird world where things can exist in multiple places at once. Where things can pop in and out of existence with a shower of particles. It was described to me, once, as the world of fairies where things don't work like we think `real` things should (ircinrruq). And we're taking pictures of it.

Who needs magic when you have this? I wonder what our kids will take for granted?


Arvay said...


dragonfly said...

The infinitely small is as awe-inspiring, if not moreso, as the infinitely large. We think we know all the rules, then we find a place where the rules, as we know them, break down. Wonderful mysteries still to be solved.