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.
The above is an excerpt from the book No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale by Felice C. Frankel and George M. Whitesides, and is reprinted here with the authors permission.