Seriously. IBM has taken microphotography to an incredible extreme. IBM scientists (yes, they pay scientists to do real science, even during a recession) have managed to capture an image of a pentacene molecule. Now, as you might guess, this is not photography in the canonical sense. It uses an amazing device called an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) a device that “feels” the very tiny differences in electrical charges in a material and assembles a 3D image based on these. The article and accompanying video describe how it was done. Gizmodo has another take.

What amazes me most about this is the absolute similarity of the “real” picture to the drawings and models used in chemistry and physics textbooks. Molecules actually DO arrange in geometric shapes, just as they have been envisioned for decades—the pentacene “picture” looks exactly like its diagram and model. Linus Pauling would be so proud.

UPDATE as would Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz, the scientist who originally conceived of geometric chemical structures.