The hornet's feathers were beautiful under a microscope. In each vane, he could see its stripes unfolding into sharply-defined fractals, interlocking Sierpinski triangles of black-and-yellow contrast. The further he increased the degree of magnification, the more intricate the patterns became.
At a depth of around twenty-seven-thousand times magnification, his eyes could discern a disruption in the intricacy of the structure. The alternating colors of insect down gave way to a total colorlessness along their borders: a shade that was neither black nor white, but instead, a transparency through which nothing could be seen.
These regions of raw emptiness defined the exact boundaries where imagination ended and the universe began. He knew, of course, that hornets did not actually possess feathers, a fact which made their feathers ideal for the experiment at hand. Ideally, using multiple specimens, he would be able to determine the maximum visual resolution available to human creativity. He recognized that this implied that he worked in a fictional laboratory, yet this did not bother him, as he knew that the results of his experiment could still be read by scholars at nonfictional institutions where such things were not so readily visible.
He shifted the observed specimen to center one of these empty spaces in his lens, then increased the magnification to twenty-seven-thousand five-hundred times actual. Upon focusing on the image, he found that the missing sections of the feather had not actually grown in size- only in complexity. Triangles of nothingness could be seen intermingling with the already present pattern, twisting what remained into entomological mandalas.
Taking advantage of the fact that he was holding a fictional microscope, he continued to increase the degree of magnification: first to thirty-thousand times, then to three-hundred thousand times, then to three-million times, and so on and so forth, and found that even down in that nanoscale darkness, there was yet more intricacy to be found. He turned the dials further clockwise, adjusting his perspective through cathedral windows outlined by molecular bonds, until at last, he could see the stripes on a single atom of the hornet's down.
Before he could get a clear look at it, however, the atom ruffled its feathers and fluttered away.