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In his new book, “Super Vision: A New View of Nature,” author Ivan Amato guides the reader through a wonderland of images, spanning 42 orders of magnitude. The images are arranged in order of size, from fundamental particles to unfathomable spans of the universe.

A single human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) buds from a cell membrane in a sample of human lymph tissue.

The array of technologies devised in the last two decades lets us see the intricacies and endless inventiveness of nature. Researchers wielding these tools are collectively producing an immense body of work that, as Amato notes in his preface, harbors “an epic story of science, discovery, and the human compulsion to probe nature.” With splendid artistic license, they boost colors to highlight specific features of the images.

A spiny-backed spider extrudes liquid protein through its silk glands. The protein molecules form tough, stretchy fibers (shown in green and blue) that the spider weaves into the silk threads it uses to make its webs.

While the art and science of the images dominate the book, clear, lively explanations help the reader understand the technology involved, and the subject’s place, literally, in the scale of the universe.

In a guinea pig’s eye, retinal cells, matted at left, capture photons and convert the light energy into nervous impulses that the brain processes into visual information. The “pit” is one of many microscopic blood vessels that nourish the retina.

Crystals of magnetic minerals align in this lagoon-dwelling bacterium found in California. In this image, the magnetic field lines are visible as squiggly white lines.

— Cheryl Simon Silver

Amato, Ivan. Super Vision: A New View of Nature. Abrams, New York, 2003.

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