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Hardcover | $5.75 Short | £4.95 | 144 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 71 color illus. | February 2009 | ISBN: 9780262012836
Paperback | $3.75 Short | £3.95 | 144 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 71 color illus. | September 2011 | ISBN: 9780262516716
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Visualizing an Invisible World


The world is made up of structures too small to see with the naked eye, too small to see even with an electron microscope. Einstein established the reality of atoms and molecules in the early 1900s. How can we see a world measured in fractions of nanometers? (Most atoms are less than one nanometer, less than one-billionth of a meter, in diameter.) This beautiful and fascinating book gives us a tour of the invisible nanoscale world. It offers many vivid color illustrations of atomic structures, each accompanied by a short, engagingly written essay. The structures advance from the simple (air, ice) to the complex (supercapacitator, rare earth magnet). Each subject was chosen not in search of comprehensiveness but because it illustrates how atomic structure creates a property (such as hardness, color, or toxicity), or because it has a great story, or simply because it is beautiful.

Thus we learn how diamonds ride volcanoes to the earth’s surface (if they came up more slowly, they’d be graphite, as in pencils); what form of carbon is named after Buckminster Fuller; who won in the x-ray vs. mineralogy professor smackdown; how a fuel cell works; when we use spinodal decomposition in our daily lives (it involves hot water and a package of Jell-O), and much more. The amazing color illustrations by Stephen Deffeyes are based on data from x-ray diffraction (a method used in crystallography). They are not just pretty pictures but visualizations of scientific data derived directly from those data. Together with Kenneth Deffeyes’s witty commentary, they offer a vivid demonstration of the diversity and beauty found at the nanometer scale.

About the Authors

Kenneth S. Deffeyes is Professor of Geology Emeritus at Princeton University. He is the author of Hubbert's Peak and Beyond Oil.

Stephen E. Deffeyes is a freelance illustrator and designer.


“[A] thoughtful, playful 'tour through the nano-scale world' [...] the 50 cameo explanations are clear and vivid, often with surprising details and amusing touches of humanity.”—Publishers Weekly
“If you are looking for a tour through the nanoscale world, this book is a goodstarting point.”—Chemistry World


“The twentieth century brought us two new views of the world we live in and two new levels of understanding – the awesome views from space and the fascinating and astonishing images of the atomic world from the electron microscope. There are many popular presentations of the former but this volume is one of the first to give us a superbly illustrated glimpse of the micro-world that controls almost every aspect of our every day lives – both useful and enjoyable!”
Lord Ronald Oxburgh, Chairman of The Shell Transport and Trading Company, and a member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom
“Nanoscale helps us visual the invisible world of the ultra-small, combining both beautiful pictures with solid scientific explanation in a joyful union of art and science.”
Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams and Ghost
“Every page of the Deffeyes's engaging texts and striking illustrations reveals surprises about the nanoarchitecture of our world and conveys how exciting and delightful science can be. Beautiful, amusing, and richly informative, this book deserves to be a classic.”
Peter Pesic, author of Sky in a Bottle