Essays on Science and SocietyGE PRIZE ESSAY

Zoom!

Science  02 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1222-1223
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216288

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Summary

Growing up, I watched the 1968 film Powers of Ten. The camera begins with a couple on a picnic and then zooms out: to the picnic ground (101 meters), Chicago (105 m), Earth (107 m), and, eventually, the universe (1026 m), only to zoom back in until it reaches the interior of a proton (10−16 m). Breathtaking structures emerge at each scale. I realized that if, one day, I could hold that magical camera—examining a phenomenon at a new scale, however briefly—I would see things that had not been seen before.

  • Funding: NIH 1DP2OD008540-01 (New Innovator Award).