Popular Science - - CONTENTS -

ONCE A YEAR, THE WHOLE staff meets to brain­storm ideas for new is­sue themes. I re­cently started wear­ing eye­glasses, and right be­fore our lat­est plan­ning ses­sion, I de­cided to tighten them up (so they’d stay on my face dur­ing bouts of ex­treme edit­ing). I reached for my trusty mini-stuff tool kit, fig­ured I’d clean the hinge while I was in there, dis­as­sem­bled my specs, and promptly lost one of the screws that held them to­gether. Mis­sion not ac­com­plished! I mar­veled at how such an in­signif­i­cant (and ba­si­cally in­vis­i­ble) wid­get could make such a big dif­fer­ence in my day.

Later, dur­ing the free­as­so­ci­a­tion por­tion of our brain­storm, I wrote the word “screws” on a sticky note, smil­ing to my­self be­cause the world had pre­sented us with such a won­der­ful sub­ject to ex­plore. My mind started spin­ning around how we could fill a mag­a­zine with sto­ries of fas­ten­ers, threads, spi­rals, and more.

Plot twist: Screws are not this is­sue’s fo­cus, nor did we choose them as a 2019 theme. That’s OK, though, be­cause this mag­a­zine’s sub­ject, tiny stuff, will do just fine. The out­size im­por­tance of un­der­size items per­fectly cap­tured my glasses ex­pe­ri­ence. That screw wasn’t re­ally in­vis­i­ble or in­signif­i­cant; it was just small. Yet it played a huge role in my abil­ity to see. It’s not alone in be­ing un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated be­cause of its size, and that’s the germ of this en­tire is­sue. We even glo­ri­fied my threaded friend in the mid­dle sec­tion of the mag­a­zine (page 68).

Ev­ery­where you look in these 134 pages, you’ll see us take a glass to the slighter things, as well as to the in­no­va­tions that help us ex­am­ine them. From our mi­cro­biome to the bac­te­rial back­story of your break­fast toast, from rugged mi­cro­scopes to mini-golf gear, this is­sue is all about go­ing big on the lit­tle stuff.

So sit back, tuck in, and pay at­ten­tion: Though we’ve done a lot of the mag­ni­fy­ing work for you, there’s al­ways more to see when you look a lit­tle bit closer.

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