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June 15, 2009

"Zoom Into a Butterfly" (Image 3)

This illustration shows the structure of a butterfly's wing across 10 orders of magnitude, from the butterfly to the atoms of which it is made. Each wing is made up of scales that are composed of intricately structured chitin molecules. It is the structure of these scales that can give butterfly's their unique colors. Using the conventions of visual perspective the image travels in one continuous "landscape" from the human scale at the top to the atomic scale in the foreground. Placing objects from the butterfly's wing in one frame clarifies connections between components, highlighting the system's reliance on structures at very different scales.

This is one of several illustrations that appeared on a poster titled "Everything is Made of Atoms," produced as part of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education (NISE) Network project. The purpose of the poster was to show how all things--from butterflies to computer chips--are made of atoms.

The NISE Network is a national community of researchers and informal science educators working together to foster public awareness, understanding and engagement with nanoscale science and technology. The network seeks to make available, a broad array of digital resources for use in nano education. NISE Network digital resources include digital versions of programs, exhibits, forums, activities, photographs, video, text, audio, Web pages, drawings, illustrations, interactive tools and other materials.

The network, established in 2005, is a cooperative activity involving the San Francisco Exploratorium, the Museum of Science, Boston, and the Science Museum of Minnesota, working together with a dedicated group of partners and advisors. NISE Network is funded by the National Science Foundation through a five-year cooperative agreement (DRL 05-32536). Further information about NISE is available Here. (Date of Image: January 2008) [Image 3 of 3 related images. Back to Image 1.]

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Credit: Exploratorium

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