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Microscopes

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 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
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
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
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
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
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
At the Printable Electronics Exhibition in Tokyo, 3R Systems was showing off their newest model of pocket microscope, the A200. Unlike the previous Vitiny model, which shot at 300,000 pixels, the A200 has a 2 megapixel (2,000,000) CMOS sensor and kicks out images of about 1600 x 1200 pixels. Read More
As art museums go, the Micropolitan Museum has a very small collection. Literally. Presented by the Institute for the Promotion of the Less than One Millimetre, the Micropolitan Museum of Microscopic Art Forms is an online “portrait” collection of mini- and micro-organisms photographed through a microscope. Inside the virtual museum’s halls you can find a zooplankton family portrait next to the glowing image of a mother copepod posing with her children (Okay, her children are actually egg packages). Down the hall, a postmodern bloom of diatoms shares exhibit space with a Rubenesque polysiphonia cystocarps. Read More
Instead of light, traditional high-resolution electron microscopes use a particle beam of electrons to illuminate a specimen. However, the particle beam also destroys the samples, meaning that electron microscopes can’t be used to image living cells. Electrical engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have proposed a new scheme that can overcome this critical limitation by using a quantum mechanical measurement technique that allows electrons to sense objects remotely without ever hitting the imaged objects, thus avoiding damage. Read More
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