New Microscope Records 3D Cells in Real Time

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BY STEVEN SPARKMAN Anchor: Megan Murphy You're watching multisource science news analysis from Newsy Is...
BY STEVEN SPARKMAN Anchor: Megan Murphy You're watching multisource science news analysis from Newsy Is any tool associated with science quite like the microscope? Well the old standard just got better - Now researchers have built a microscope that uses beams like those found in barcode scanners to watch single cells in real time. InventorSpot explains why this is a big deal. “The big trick is in the light. The sweep of the Bessel beam creates a very thin light sheet, which is minimally invasive. With existing microscopy technology, it has been possible to observe tiny things in 3D, but not for long -- because the intense light required kills, or severely damages, whatever it is you're observing.” The new illumination tricks let the researchers record cells doing their thing in high-resolution. It lets researchers study the goings-on of cell structures in a way they never could before. The researchers compared it to learning the rules of a sport. Watching the players in a film teaches you the rules quicker than studying snapshots. Likewise, watching chromosomes divide in real time lets researchers learn about the process in much more detail. (Video source: HHMI) Getting the images clear was tricky. Bessel beams create a lot of noise in the image, lowering the resolution. To get around this, lead researcher Eric Betzig had to pull in every microscopy trick he could find. “The first is a concept called structured illumination, where instead of sweeping the beam continuously, they turned it on and off rapidly, like firing a machine gun. ... Another strategy Betzig's group used is two-photon microscopy, a method commonly used in neuroscience to visualize thick pieces of brain tissue.” (HHMI) Betzig has been creating new microscopes for decades, and he’s not done yet. PopSci reports he’s already looking forward to his next innovation. “The next step could be combining the Bessel beam plane technique with super-resolution techniques, Betzig said. That would be something — with no limits on how small we can see, and an imaging technique that take movies without harming organisms, the possibilities seem endless.” One of those possibilities: watching the delicate structures on the famous HeLa cell - a cancer cell taken from a woman in 1951 kept alive today -- in a way never possible before. (Video source: HHMI) Give us your take on the tiniest film camera in history in our comments section. 'Like' Newsy on Facebook for updates in your news feed Get more multisource video news analysis from Newsy Transcript by Newsy
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