A Breakthrough Vision

For centuries scientists have tinkered with the tools of visualization, designing better microscopes, telescopes, lenses, and lasers capable of seeing—to put a slight twist on the words of poet Robert Frost—out far or in deep.

Today, scientists can watch as proteins are born. They can visualize the social networks inside cells. They are drawing a clearer picture of how mutation and disease hobble and defeat the molecular machines that keep cells alive. With each passing day, what was once invisible or only barely recognizable comes into focus.

Illustration: Josh Cochran