Posts Tagged cell

Astonishing documentary: Secret Life – the Hidden Life of the Cell aimee whitcroft Nov 28


If there’s one thing you watch today (well, other than wall-to-wall coverage of The Hobbit* and perhaps some videos of sorting algorithms explained through folk dance), it needs to be this.

Secret Universe – The Hidden Life Of the Cell from pbbes on Vimeo.

In this astonishing hour-long BBC documentary released just a month ago, David Tennant narrates the story of what happens when our basic components – cells – come under attach from a virus (in this case, a common respiratory disease-causing virus, the adenovirus).

Not only is it brilliantly beautiful, but also educational – we don’t just see various spherical (or not) objects interacting, but the molecular details making them up. And it’s genuinely thrilling – I was more gripped watching this than I have been watching major Hollywood blockbusters. Yes, I’m a giant nerd in some ways (especially about this stuff), but it’s also really that good.

When I was doing my molecular biology degree earlier this century, we had nothing so detailed. We had to rely on diagrams and our imagination to provide an understanding of how everything interacted – I’m glad to say, I appear to have gotten it right. Happy thought :)


* For those of us in New Zealand. I managed to escape the insanity occurring in central Wellington by heading as far south for lunch as I could while remaining on the island, huzzah!

Dr Evil’s fondest wish may yet come true aimee whitcroft Jun 14


Sharks with frikkin’ laser beams on their foreheads have, until now, seemed a remote possibility*.

Cell producing focused green light.  Credit: M Gather

Cell producing focused green light. Credit: M Gather

But in a stunning development, scientists have engineered living cells which are able to _emit laser beams_.

Take a moment.  Sit back.  Allow your mind to explode a little.

In essence, living cells have been engineered to produce Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) – a jellyfish protein which fluoresces -and, when bathed in weak blue light and helped along with mirrors, emit an intense, focused beam of green laser light.

Possible applications include medical diagnostics and imaging of cells, as well as possible therapeutic uses, although those are likely further off…

The BBC has a more in depth article here, as does the New York Times and, heh, PC magazine :)

Mad props to @SetHop for pointing this out…


* As has the possibility of having laser-beam eyes, a la Cyclops **

** Please note: I am being tongue in cheek

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