Science

EyePoppers: The Best Science Photos of the Week
Science labs across the world churn out the most startling images—maps of the human brain, cancer research that shows how molecules interact, DNA sequences that look like works of art. In just one gallery, you can see the latest findings in the world of science, told through pictures. These shots come from remote places—including a science lab in middle of the Indian Ocean, research institutions at major U.S. universities like Harvard and Cornell, and drug labs in Europe.  By John Brandon

Finding the Cancer Cell

Half the battle in finding a cure for cancer is discovering the disease's origin. This month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified for the first time these pre-cancerous cells, which form into a cluster that express a protein (called pdx1) and gene (called K-ras) that lead to pancreatic cancer. The clusters can also form into later stage tumors. The finding is important because it will help doctors diagnose pancreatic cancer that — like brain cancer — is often found too late.

(MIT)

DNA Soup

Diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Miller syndrome are hard to pin down. Doctors don't often know what happens in the gene mutations, so finding a cure is especially difficult. 

The University of Washington has developed a sequencing technique for exomes (subsets of the genome) that found the gene mutation in Miller syndrome, and reveals how exome sequencing can aid in gene research. In this image, four colors represent the four DNA strands: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine.

(University of Washington)

Mouse X-Ray

A microscopic view of mouse cartilage shows how arthritis has developed at left, and how a new drug treatment—developed at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto—has blocked it. 

"This is the first work that I am aware of that identifies a drug to target the development of joint lining chondrocyte cells to make them behave more like regenerating joint cells, rather that degenerating osteoarthritis cells," says Dr. Ben Alman, a SickKids surgeon. His work could help prevent osteoarthritis growth in patients and negate the need for total joint replacement.

(SickKids.ca)

Deep Water Mystery

This Hatchet fish, caught in the Indian Ocean on November 15, is a rare find. The fish has one of the longest daily migrations in the world, rising 700m to the surface each day and then descending to the depths again to digest. 

"This animal comes from the twilight zone where there is still a low level of light but not visible to human eyes," says Sarah Gotheil, an IUCN Global Marine Programme researcher who spoke with us from the Indian Ocean. IUCN seeks to reveal deep water mysteries.

(IUCN.org/Oddgeir Alvheim)

Supercomputer Vs. Cat Brain

IBM, along with Stanford University, has released new images that show how the connections work in the brain. The tests, announced this week, mimic the cortical structure of a cat's brain, which has over 1 billion activate neurons and ten trillion learning synapses. 

The the brain is the ultimate computer. Understanding the connections, storage locations, and even low power usage and perception abilities will lead to future advances in computers, and someday the ability to mimic the human brain. 

(IBM/Stanford)

Networks on Light Beams

Today’s fastest computers could exchange bits of data on light beams, which are screamingly faster than ordinary data networks. But because there’s no such thing as an optical transistor, those light beams—or photonic networks—are limited by today’s electronics. A new optical switch, developed at Cornell, could turn that on its ear.

Says Gustavo Wiederhecker, a Cornell researcher, "Whenever switching is required, optical-to-electronic conversion is necessary, limiting the potential throughput of optical networks. Our device might form the basis for tunable switching in the optical domain."

(Cornell University)

Targeting Cancer

The Tulane Cancer Center in New Orleans will be the first in the US to treat prostate cancer with a new experimental drug already being tested in Europe. The drug, called Alpharadin, destroys cancer cells that have spread to the bone (highlighted in the image) while leaving healthy bone marrow intact. The drug treats late-stage prostate cancer, which kills about 27,000 men each year in the US.

(Tulane Cancer Center)

Water on the Moon

This "ejecta plume" on the moon shows vapor spraying from the planet's surface just a few seconds after the LCROSS Centaur satellite—launched two months ago—made impact on October 9. 

Late last week, NASA revealed its analysis of the moon's composition: The material, probably a mixture of hydrogen or other dense materials, was in a deep crater and has been dormant for billions of years. The discovery provides  much-needed reinvigoration for a possible moon-landing in the next decade.

(NASA)

Finding the Cancer Cell

Half the battle in finding a cure for cancer is discovering the disease's origin. This month, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified for the first time these pre-cancerous cells, which form into a cluster that express a protein (called pdx1) and gene (called K-ras) that lead to pancreatic cancer. The clusters can also form into later stage tumors. The finding is important because it will help doctors diagnose pancreatic cancer that — like brain cancer — is often found too late.

(MIT)

DNA Soup

Diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Miller syndrome are hard to pin down. Doctors don't often know what happens in the gene mutations, so finding a cure is especially difficult. 

The University of Washington has developed a sequencing technique for exomes (subsets of the genome) that found the gene mutation in Miller syndrome, and reveals how exome sequencing can aid in gene research. In this image, four colors represent the four DNA strands: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine.

(University of Washington)

Mouse X-Ray

A microscopic view of mouse cartilage shows how arthritis has developed at left, and how a new drug treatment—developed at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto—has blocked it. 

"This is the first work that I am aware of that identifies a drug to target the development of joint lining chondrocyte cells to make them behave more like regenerating joint cells, rather that degenerating osteoarthritis cells," says Dr. Ben Alman, a SickKids surgeon. His work could help prevent osteoarthritis growth in patients and negate the need for total joint replacement.

(SickKids.ca)

Deep Water Mystery

This Hatchet fish, caught in the Indian Ocean on November 15, is a rare find. The fish has one of the longest daily migrations in the world, rising 700m to the surface each day and then descending to the depths again to digest. 

"This animal comes from the twilight zone where there is still a low level of light but not visible to human eyes," says Sarah Gotheil, an IUCN Global Marine Programme researcher who spoke with us from the Indian Ocean. IUCN seeks to reveal deep water mysteries.

(IUCN.org/Oddgeir Alvheim)

Supercomputer Vs. Cat Brain

IBM, along with Stanford University, has released new images that show how the connections work in the brain. The tests, announced this week, mimic the cortical structure of a cat's brain, which has over 1 billion activate neurons and ten trillion learning synapses. 

The the brain is the ultimate computer. Understanding the connections, storage locations, and even low power usage and perception abilities will lead to future advances in computers, and someday the ability to mimic the human brain. 

(IBM/Stanford)

Networks on Light Beams

Today’s fastest computers could exchange bits of data on light beams, which are screamingly faster than ordinary data networks. But because there’s no such thing as an optical transistor, those light beams—or photonic networks—are limited by today’s electronics. A new optical switch, developed at Cornell, could turn that on its ear.

Says Gustavo Wiederhecker, a Cornell researcher, "Whenever switching is required, optical-to-electronic conversion is necessary, limiting the potential throughput of optical networks. Our device might form the basis for tunable switching in the optical domain."

(Cornell University)

Targeting Cancer

The Tulane Cancer Center in New Orleans will be the first in the US to treat prostate cancer with a new experimental drug already being tested in Europe. The drug, called Alpharadin, destroys cancer cells that have spread to the bone (highlighted in the image) while leaving healthy bone marrow intact. The drug treats late-stage prostate cancer, which kills about 27,000 men each year in the US.

(Tulane Cancer Center)

Water on the Moon

This "ejecta plume" on the moon shows vapor spraying from the planet's surface just a few seconds after the LCROSS Centaur satellite—launched two months ago—made impact on October 9. 

Late last week, NASA revealed its analysis of the moon's composition: The material, probably a mixture of hydrogen or other dense materials, was in a deep crater and has been dormant for billions of years. The discovery provides  much-needed reinvigoration for a possible moon-landing in the next decade.

(NASA)

EyePoppers: The Best Science Photos of the Week

Science labs across the world churn out the most startling images—maps of the human brain, cancer research that shows how molecules interact, DNA sequences that look like works of art. In just one gallery, you can see the latest findings in the world of science, told through pictures. These shots come from remote places—including a science lab in middle of the Indian Ocean, research institutions at major U.S. universities like Harvard and Cornell, and drug labs in Europe.  By John Brandon

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