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Seeing atoms Fri, Oct 18, 2013
I learned recently that the reason an atom can't be seen with a typical microscope is because the diameter of an atom is around 0.5 nm, while the wavelength of visible light is more like 500 nm.  Light waves (and all other waves) won't reflect off anything that's too much smaller than their wavelength, so light simply passes around an atom.  That's why different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum must be used to sense incredibly small things like atoms.


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