The coronavirus is really really small. It measures around 120 nanometers. For context, the width of a single strand of human hair is somewhere around 75,000 nanometers. Under an electron microscope, the virus looks like a slightly blurry colorless orb.
So how do you get from a tiny, almost transparent virus under a microscope to the image of a red spiky orb we've come to associate with the novel coronavirus? We asked Deborah L. Gumucio, a professor emerita in Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan, that very question.