Physics News of the Week: Window into Living Cells and the Brain

| January 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

This week we have some great news from the scientists studying the mysteries of cells and the human brain. As always, here are three top news from this week, plus some extra reading. To receive these news straight to your email box, register for our email newsletter.

1. Unlocking the Secrets of the Brain Using Sound (January 22)

The human brain is, needless to say, a mysterious organ. One of the main reasons for that is, of course, that it is really hard to get access to the brain without a surgery. Now, however, work by Technion Professors Eitan Kimmel and Shy Shoham, and a Ph.D. student Misha Plaksin, offers a new way to enter the brain non-invasively using sound.

The method uses interactions of sound waves and the cellular membrane. According to Kimmel’s model, when the ultrasonic waves encounter a cell, the two layers of the cellular membrane begin to vibrate, which creates an action potential. The potential can be studied, which in turn can lead to new medical advances.

2. Window into Living Cells Through 3-D Imaging (January 22)

A newly developed technique now offers an easier way to observe cells without any dyes or other chemicals. Called white-light diffraction tomography (WDT), the imaging technique opens a window into the life of a cell without disturbing it and could allow cellular biologists unprecedented insight into cellular processes, drug effects and stem cell differentiation. The technique also allows rendering high-resolution, three-dimensional images. For more information, check out the link above.

3. Nearby Supernova Baffles Astronomers (January 23)

A dramatic supernova that took place 12 million light years away from Earth at Messier 82 was recently observed. Interestingly, the first ones to discover the explosion were the undergraduate students from UCL during a telescope class. “One minute we’re eating pizza then five minutes later we’ve helped to discover a supernova. I couldn’t believe it,” said student Tom Wright. According to scientists the supernova could grow brighter in the coming weeks, which could mean that astronomers in the northern hemisphere may be able to spot it with binoculars.

More news:

Extreme Power of a Black Hole Revealed
Light From Ancient Quasar Reveal Intergalactic Web
How the Geocentric Model Worked 

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