Tag Archives: Microscopy

Scientific Images from Northwestern Photo Contest

August 19th, 2014 | Brain, Robot
Nanoscale Lego Puzzle - Radha Boya

“Nanoscale Lego Puzzle” – Radha Boya

The hidden beauty of the natural world is brought forth in laboratories around the country on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the general public usually doesn’t get the chance to see these incredible scientific images. However, Northwestern University has recently been holding a photo competition to share images “across a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, chemistry, engineering and nanotechnology.” They are truly a sight to behold.

Seen above is an image called “Nanoscale Lego Puzzle” by Radha Boya. Here’s a description of the piece:

“A thin film of gold has been deposited on a silicon mold. Each evenly spaced black dot is a groove in the silicon that has been filled by the gold. The puzzle-like shapes are made when the gold cracks and curls up. The darker shading indicates where the gold has curled in on itself. The metal tips fabricated by this method can be used in many applications, such as printing DNA chips.”

Meltdown - Keith Brown - Scientific Images

“Meltdown” – Keith Brown

“This image shows the aftermath of a case when a large voltage was applied between a thin film of gold (light blue) and silicon (dark blue), and electrons found a way through the thin insulating layer that separated them. As the current increased, the material was heated resulting in a catastrophic thermal expansion that resulted in a crater of solidified material (red).”

Graphene Oxide - Andrew Koltonow

“Graphene Oxide” – Andrew Koltonow

“Koltonow and his colleagues study a material called graphene oxide (GO), which is only a couple of atoms thick. They can assemble thin sheets of GO into a foam that conducts electricity. The foam can be used to create electrodes for batteries, making such energy storage devices smaller and lighter.

In this image, graphene oxide sheets (purple-orange) cast shadows from light that is scattered off of GO foam (green-yellow), creating an eerie effect.”

Colorful Directions - Mark McClendon - Scientific Images

“Colorful Directions” – Mark McClendon

“Imagine simply injecting healthy human cells into the body to repair damaged muscle tissue. This might one day be possible if scientists, like McClendon, can find a way to keep these cells organized at the point of injury until healing is complete. One solution might be placing the cells in a nanofiber gel, which can then be injected directly into the human body. The cells growing in the gel will eventually respond to their surroundings by stretching and migrating in the same direction as the nanofibers.

Shown in this image is a blob of nanofiber gel with encapsulated cells from a human heart. The color is a result of the alignment of nanofibers making up the gel, with each color corresponding to a cluster of nanofibers aligned one direction.”

black ghost knifefish - Oscar Curet - Scientific Images

“Black Ghost Knifefish” – Oscar Curet

“The black ghost knifefish, found in the Amazon Basin, can move rapidly and in many directions due to an elongated fin on its belly that runs nearly the entire length of the fish. Curet and his colleagues used a robotic replica of the knifefish to study this motion, which could prove useful when applied to the design of underwater vehicles like submarines.

This image maps the motion of the robotic fish as it moves in a vertical direction. The lines represent the path of the fluid motion and the color represents the velocity, where blue is slow and yellow is fast.”

The mysteries of science can be illuminated with a well-captured photo or illustration. I’m glad Northwestern is sharing some of this wonder with the general public.

You can check out the full list of winning scientific images at the Northwestern website.


80,000 Neurons Firing in the Brain of a Zebrafish

July 29th, 2014 | Brain

Labeled_Zebrafish_80000_neuronsA team led by Drs. Jeremy Freeman and Misha Ahrens recently recorded the activity of approximately 80,000 neurons firing in the brain of a zebrafish larvae. The technique they implemented is called light-sheet microscopy. Briefly, the scientists genetically engineer zebrafish neurons to emit a fluorescent signal just after the neuron fires. Laser beams are the shot through the fish so that the activated neurons will glow and an overhead microscope records the whole thing. Of course, this technique only works because the zebrafish are entirely transparent, so don’t expect to have your brain scanned in this manner any time soon.

“At the beginning of the movie, the fish is resting and the forebrain region on the far-right is flashing away. That may represent whatever the fish is thinking about when it’s just hanging out.

Scientists then created the illusion that the fish was drifting backwards by sliding bars in front of its eyes. Its intent to swim to catch up was measured with electrodes on its muscles. When the bars start sliding, a few neurons sitting just behind the eyes light up followed by a huge cascade of activity, including massive pulses initiating swimming.”

“There must be fundamental principles about how large populations of neurons represent information and guide behavior,” says neuroscientist Jeremy Freeman of Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia. “In this system, where we record from the whole brain, we might start to understand what those rules are.”

We know that the processing of sensory input and the generation of behavior involves large networks of neurons, and Dr. Freeman believes that observing networks with this sort of technology will enable us to gain deeper insight to how the brain functions.

It is important to note that the temporal resolution is fast enough to identify which neurons are involved in a given behavior but too slow to count how many times they fire. Thus, there is no way that this technique could ever decipher the neural computations that take place at the millisecond timescale in the human brain.

I think we’ll probably need nanobots to ever fully decode the brain…

Find the full article here… if you have a subscription :/


[via Wired]

Bacterial Patterns by Fernan Federici

July 8th, 2013 | Brain

Bacterial patterns by Fernan Federici 1

Bacterial patterns by Fernan Federici 2

Bacterial patterns by Fernan Federici 3

Bacterial patterns by Fernan Federici 6

Fernan Federici is a molecular geneticist at the University of Cambridge working in the Haseloff Lab of Synthetic Biology.  Using confocal microscopy, he captured these award-winning photographs of bacteria in their natural habitat. The organic growths are selectively dyed to create the stunning patterns.

You can find a large collection of science photography at Fernan’s Flickr site, and if you’re curious about his scientific background, head to his bio.


[via So Much Older Then]