Look More Closely

Water drop, Felice Frankel

“We glance, and turn away without noticing. We don’t ever really see, and then we forget what we have seen. Water drips from faucets; candles burn; yeast makes bread rise; a tiny, living mouse — pursuing its tiny murine intentions — runs across a floor that was once a living tree; the sun consumes itself.

We don’t notice.

Look more closely, and everyday events bloom into a reality so transfixingly marvelous that you can’t look away. Life becomes something we don’t understand that happens in ordinary matter. Ordinary matter happens somehow when atoms get together. Atoms build themselves from electrons and nuclei, following rules that flummox intuition. Electrons and nuclei are strange avatars of yet stranger fish swimming in a darker sea.
But whatever it all is — this amazing assembly we so flippantly nickname ‘reality’ — is all there is, and all we are.”

~ Georges Whitesides, from No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale 


"I'm sort of a visual ambassador in the sense that I'm using a language, that is the pictorial language, to get people to be less intimidated about what is going on in the laboratories. Photographing science is definitely about showing evidence, but the photography itself, the process is sort of a metaphor for the discovery in science. Most of this stuff, you come to the assignment and you think you have a way you're going to do it, and then you don't do it that way. You discover another way to do it. And in the process you see things. Isn't that fun?"

~ Felice Frankel, on her method for capturing the images that appear in the book, No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale, which she co-wrote with Harvard chemist George Whitesides. (Studio 360, 09/10/2010).

See also: Slideshows from 2020 Science and Science Friday