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The ePetri prototype uses an image sensor and a smartphone's LED display as a scanning lig...

When it comes to laboratory equipment, it doesn’t get much more basic than the humble petri dish. Aside from moving from glass to plastic and the addition of rings on their lids and bases that allows them to be stacked, the petri dish has remained largely unchanged since its invention by German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri and his assistant Robert Koch in the late 1800s. Now researchers at the California Institute of technology (Caltech) have dragged the petri dish into the 21st Century by incorporating an image sensor like those found in mobile phone cameras that does away with the need for bulky microscopes.  Read More

Scientists have created a system that is able to visually reconstruct images that people h...

In the 1983 film Brainstorm, Christopher Walken played a scientist who was able to record movies of people's mental experiences, then play them back into the minds of other people. Pretty far-fetched, right? Well, maybe not. Utilizing functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computer models, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have been able to visually reconstruct the brain activity of human subjects watching movie trailers - in other words, they could see what the people's brains were seeing.  Read More

The clear mouse embryo on the right was incubated in the Scale reagent for two weeks

Scientists are constantly looking for new and better ways of seeing through biological tissue, in order to see cells within it that have been marked with dyes, proteins or other substances. While recent research has involved using marking materials such as carbon nanotubes and firefly protein, scientists from Japan’s RIKEN Brain Science Institute have taken a different approach – they’ve developed a chemical reagent that causes the tissue surrounding the marked cells to become transparent.  Read More

MIT has developed a system known as GelSight, that uses painted rubber to obtain 3D images...

Typically, if someone wishes to obtain three-dimensional images of micrometer-scale objects, they need to use a device such as a confocal microscope or a white-light interferometer. Such equipment is big, expensive, and often has to be mounted on a vibration-free table. Even then, it can take up to a few hours to get the finished images. Scientists at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, however, have created a system that can obtain the same kind of images almost instantly, using a soda can-sized sensor and a sheet of rubber. It’s called GelSight.  Read More

Fluorescent near-infrared waves pass readily through a mouse's tissues to reveal its brigh...

There are several techniques used by researchers and physicians to image the internal organs of people and animals, but each of these techniques have their shortcomings. X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scanning, for instance, involve exposing the subject to radiation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is safer, although subjects must sometimes ingest a contrasting agent in order to obtain more distinct images. The use of injected colored fluorescent proteins is another approach, but has been limited by the fact that hemoglobin in the subject’s blood absorbs much of the wavelength of the light used for imaging. Now, however, scientists from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have engineered a new fluorescent protein that sidesteps this limitation.  Read More

Scientists have determined the structure of the highly-absorbent mineral used in cat litte...

Cat litter might not seem like a particularly exotic substance, but it contains a mineral known as sepiolite, which is actually rather remarkable. Mined from only a few sources worldwide, sepiolite is a type of clay that absorbs 2.5 times its weight in water - that's more absorbent than any other known mineral, or any manmade material. This is made possible by its crystalline structure, that maximizes the amount of internal surface area available for soaking up liquids ... such as cat pee. Recently, an international team of scientists have obtained X-ray diffraction microscope images of sepiolite for the first time. Using the information provided by those images, a cheaper, easier-to-source synthetic version of the mineral could be created, and used in everything from batteries to food.  Read More

The left-center of a PFCA  - note how each pixel has a unique set of optical gratings that...

It fits on the head of a pin, has no lens or moving parts, can be made for just a few cents, and yet it can take a photo of the Mona Lisa in which she’s actually sort of recognizable ... it’s called the Planar Fourier Capture Array (PFCA), and it’s a tiny camera developed at New York’s Cornell University. Although you might choose not to use it for photographing your child’s birthday party, it could come in quite handy in the fields of science and technology.  Read More

The quantum tip's ultra-cold cloud of atoms (yellow) is contained in a magnetic trap and s...

When trying to see objects that are too small for optical microscopes to image, scientists often turn to scanning probe microscopes. Instead of a lens, these instruments have a tiny suspended tip, that moves up and down as it makes contact with the object’s surface. An image, which can reveal details as small as one millionth of a millimeter, is obtained by scanning that probe back and forth across the object. Scientists from Germany’s Universitaet Tübingen have now taken scanning probe microscopy a step farther, by creating a probe made not from a solid material, but from a gas of atoms – this “quantum tip” is said to increase the resolution of images beyond what has so far been possible.  Read More

Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) software analyzes data from stereo camera vie...

We've looked at a number of efforts to extend the capabilities of the traditional white cane for the visually impaired, such as using ultrasonic echoes or lasers to give users a better lay of the land. But a group of engineering researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) are looking to do away with the cane altogether and replace it with a "guide vest" that works in conjunction with a helmet-mounted camera and special software to let wearers "see" the world through tactile feedback.  Read More

Engineers have created a single fixed lens that allows microscopes to capture three-dimens...

Engineers from Ohio State University have developed what they say is the world’s first microscope lens capable of obtaining three-dimensional images. While 3D microscopy has already been achieved, it has previously required the use of multiple lenses, or of a single camera that moves around the object being imaged. The new device, however, is just a single lens that sits in place on an existing microscope.  Read More

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