That's not a disco beehive -- that's staring so hard that you can see the mortar holding reality together. Those green lines are the actual atomic bonds inside a molecule. This isn't an artist's impression: That's an atomic force microscope (AFM) image of electron density. The green bars are the joints between atoms, the scaffold supporting everything. The red cells are the void between atoms in even the most solid material. We're now so good at seeing molecules that we can make them look like the stick-and-ball models from chemistry class.
Left: model. Right: existence.
(An A is an angstrom, one ten-billionth of a meter.)
The earliest tool in scientific investigation was "poking things with a stick," and AFM is the top level of that tech tree. The stick is now one molecule. When it presses against something, it bends a micromachined lever, reflecting a laser beam. It measures reality with a Rube Goldberg machine made out of the most awesome devices we've ever built. And then we made it even better. IBM recorded the above image using non-contact AFM, where we got so smart that we could poke things without touching them. Presumably so that the atoms can't get mad.
When smartphones come with lasers, this will end differently.
Non-contact AFM uses the force (specifically, the Van der Waals force), which alters the vibration of the single-molecule tip. This rapidly oscillates the laser beam in the world's tiniest and most scientifically accurate rave. This vibration shows that the tip is near something. (Like dowsing, except based on everything we've ever learned about reality, instead of in stark defiance of it.) The system is so sensitive that it can only be used at 5 degrees above absolute zero. (I don't need to say which kind of degree; that Fahrenheit nonsense doesn't even know there is an absolute zero.) These molecular masters are so good at their jobs that, while most people celebrated the Olympics by clicking "refresh" on sports pages instead of working, they built a new molecule.
Olympicene. They didn't make up the word, they made up the material.