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Microscopes

Science

University of Manchester unveils world's most powerful optical microscope

Scientists from the University of Manchester have announced the development of the world's most powerful optical microscope. Called the "microsphere nanoscope," the device captures non-diffracted near-field virtual images that are amplified via silica glass microspheres, which are tiny optically-transparent spherical particles. Those images are then relayed and further amplified by a standard optical microscope. The nanoscope reportedly allows users to see objects as small as 50 nanometers under normal lighting – this is 20 times smaller than what conventional optical microscopes can manage, and is in fact said to be beyond the theoretical limits of optical microscopy.Read More

Science

World's first hard X-ray free-electron laser images intact viruses

An international team of scientists has obtained the world’s first single-shot images of intact viruses – a technology that could ultimately lead to moving video of molecules, viruses and live microbes. The team was also able to successfully utilize a new shortcut for determining the 3D structures of proteins. Both advances were achieved using the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser – the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) – which scientists hope could revolutionize the study of life. Read More

Science

Players control real microorgansims in 'biotic video games'

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

Science

Scientists build 'Poor Man's Free Electron Laser'

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

Science

X-ray microscope images cells faster, without the need for dyes

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

Science

Bone formation achieved in laboratory

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

Digital Cameras

Nikon Small World microscopic photography competition winners announced

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

Electronics

Homemade laser microscope reveals water's murky secrets

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

Medical

US$240 TB-detecting microscope on par with $40,000 devices

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

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