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Microscopes

A physicist has created 'biotic video games,' in which players manipulate the behavior of ...

A common criticism of single-player video games is that they isolate their players, shutting them off from anything or anyone that exists in the real world. Well, that certainly can’t be said of the lab-based “biotic games” created by Stanford University physicist Ingmar Riedel-Kruse – while they may be fashioned after arcade classics, his games require players to manipulate living microorganisms in real time. If you want to “kick” a soccer ball into a net, for instance, you have to get an actual paramecium to do it for you.  Read More

Thijs van Oudheusden with his 'poor man's X-FEL' (Photo: Bart van Overbeeke)

If you want to obtain moving images of high-speed molecular processes at an atomic scale, one of the best facilities in the world is the X-ray Free Electron Laser (X-FEL) at Stanford University. Should you wish to use it, however, you’ll have get on a waiting list, then bring your materials to its California home once it’s your turn. If you’re thinking of building your own, you’d better start saving now – Stanford’s laser reportedly cost several hundred million dollars to build, and the cost of a new European X-FEL has been set at one billion euro (US$1.3 billion). Researchers from the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), however, have recently announced the development of a tabletop “poor man’s X-FEL.” It performs some of the same key functions as the big laser, but costs under half a million euro (US$656,006).  Read More

An image of the nucleus of a mouse adenocarcinoma cell showing the nucleolus and the membr...

When obtaining three-dimensional images of cells using a scanning electron microscope, individual cells are scanned one section at a time and those images are then put together to form one complete 3D picture of that cell – the process often takes a long time to complete. When using a fluorescence microscope, cells must first by dyed so that they show up against their surroundings. Now, a team from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) have demonstrated a process called X-ray nanotomography, that can instantly obtain 3D images of cells in their almost natural state.  Read More

Dr. Nico Sommerdijk and colleagues have created bone in a laboratory setting

Scientists have successfully mimicked the process of bone formation in the laboratory. A cryoTitan electron microscope was used to capture the process in great visual detail and the results, which contradicted previous assumptions, could be applied to areas other than medicine.  Read More

The winners of the 36th Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition have now been annou...

The winner of the 36th Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition has just been announced. Looking like one of those visualizations from Windows Media Player, the judges' choice for the top prize was picked from a field of over 2,000 entries. The photograph by Jonas King shows anopheles gambiae (mosquito heart) magnified 100 times and was taken using fluorescence microscopy.  Read More

Hollow microneedles open the door to new techniques for diagnosing and treating a variety ...

A research team at North Carolina State University has created incredibly small microneedles to be used in the treatment of medical conditions by inserting nanoscale dyes called quantum dots into the skin. This new procedure could advance a doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including skin cancer.  Read More

A homemade laser microscope has revealed the very lively, secret life of a drop of water

Some burning questions have just got to be answered, no matter the substantial costs involved. One such question demanding attention is: can a laser pointer be used to examine the microscopic contents of a drop of water? Happily, the answer is yes, and without the aforementioned prohibitive expense. In this home experiment, a laser pointer was shone through a drop of water collected from the base of a potted plant and the magnified image projected on an opposing wall. Read on to see a video showing a bemused-looking cat watching the resulting light show.  Read More

Andrew Miller's Global Focus microscope

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 million people worldwide died from tuberculosis in 2008. It’s definitely a disease to be taken seriously, so when people in remote locations are being tested for it, it’s best if they don’t have to wait for their samples to be processed at a distant lab. That’s why medical device designer Andrew Miller, when he was still an undergraduate at Houston’s Rice University, developed the portable, battery-operated Global Focus fluorescence microscope. In a paper published this Wednesday, Miller and his co-authors described how the $US240 Global Focus is able to detect TB-positive sputum smears just as well as laboratory microscopes worth over $40,000.  Read More

Zebrafish larvae, used in human medical research (Photo: Adam Amsterdam, MIT)

You might not care how hard or easy it is to image zebrafish larvae, but you should. Zebrafish larvae are among the most commonly-used laboratory animals, useful for studies of human diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Now, engineers from MIT have developed a system that dramatically streamlines the zebrafish-imaging process. Whereas traditional manual viewing takes about ten minutes per fish, a new system developed by engineers at MIT can get the job done in just 19 seconds.  Read More

The prototype for the compact, lightweight lensless microscope developed at UCLA (Image: O...

Making use of novel lensless imaging technology, a UCLA engineer has invented the world’s smallest, lightest telemedicine microscope. The self-contained device could radically transform global health care – particularly in Third World countries – with its ability to image blood samples or other fluids. It can even be used to test water quality in the field following a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake.  Read More

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