Imaging the very small -- the atoms
|A FIM image of PtAu alloy, each white dot is an atom.|
Later, many types of electron microscope had been advanced to the atomic resolution. Then in the early 1980s, scanning tunneling microscope (STM, 1981) and atomic force microscope (AFM, 1982) were invented in IBM labs to image as well as to manipulate individual atoms. On April 30th 2013, IBM Research released the stop-motion animation "A Boy and His Atom" produced by maniputatling each molecule of carbon monoxide (CO) on the surface of a copper substrate and capturing frame-by-frame using a scanning tunneling microscope.
|Excited hydrogen atom's orbital|
On May 20th 2013, Aneta S. Stodolna et al. published a paper showing images of hydrogen atom's orbital excited by a direct current electric field, captured with a photoionization microscope, a kind of quantum microscope.
Imaging the very old -- Big Bang, the birth of Universe
|COBE's cosmic microwave background map|
In 1992, the NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satelite released the first cosmic microwave background map as a result of its 4-year obsevation. This is the image of the Universe when it was just about 375,000 years old, and its temperature was about 3,000 Kelvin.
|WMAP's cosmic microwave background map|
|Plank's cosmic microwave background map|
Imaging the very fast -- the speed of light
Imaging the very far and massive -- the black hole
|Messier 87's black hole|
All of these, the atom and its orbital, the Big Bang and its afterglow, the speed of light, and the black hole had been well known in theory and even had been applied in many fields long before they were directly captured in image. But when we can see them with our naked eyes, via images, we feel more confident about our knowledge and have more motivation to learn deeper about them.