translating biophilia into a love of life

The molecular world

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The future is moving toward me so quickly! In July, I was daydreaming of server gardens. Today, about 3 months later, Science released a report detailing a molecular computer that functions within living cells. Within a few clicks, I’d found evidence of other biological computers, including a DNA computer that is unbeatable at tic-tac-toe. The ability to control processes within living cells would offer the potential of a revolutionary approach to studying and healing biological systems. For example, a molecular computer could be used to detect cancer cells and enable the targeted release an anti-cancer drug.

The molecular world is a fascinating place. Our ability to probe, understand and manipulate objects invisible to the naked eye is phenomenal. Researchers have developed ways to visualize the complexity of life at a microscopic level, and Nikon’s Small World website is a showcase of life science, chemistry and materials science photomicrographs. The image I find the most striking – in part because it is also somewhat disturbing – is Chick Embryo , an image captured using stereomicroscopy by Tomas Pais de Azevedo:

Chick Embryo

Chick Embryo

Several years ago I considered purchasing a digital microscope for personal use, and bid for one on Ebay. I lost. Since then, my microscopic needs have advanced, and I think I’d require unlimited use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to be completely satisfied. Hopefully advances in technology will pave the way for a consumer grade SEM. Either that, or a biotech lab closure will flood the market with cut rate deals on high-end microscopes. I may have to wait to strike it rich, or receive one as a gift. So if the first year wedding anniversary is paper, the 41st anniversary is land, which anniversary is laboratory equipment?

Update: I just found a how-to wiki with instructions for how to take microphotographs with a standard digital camera and a decent lab ‘scope.  Good to know!


Written by morethangray

October 17, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Posted in thoughts

Tagged with ,

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