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Mesolens: see thousands of cells in detail at the same time

Living Water Flea, captured through the Mesolens

Living Water Flea, captured through the Mesolens, by Brad Amos at LMB

Currently on exhibition as part of the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary celebrations, the Mesolens is a giant microscope that can show large field-of-view images of living specimens in incredible detail – thousands of living cells in focus and in detail at the same time. Until now, scientists have had to rely on low-mag light microscopes to obeserve living specimens, or use sections of dead specimens on an electron microscope in order to get high-mag images.

Mesolens vs Hooke

Mesolens vs Hooke

Robert Hooke first drew a human flea in his 1665 book Micrographia. Along with van Leeuwenhoek, Hooke kick-started microbiology, and so it is a fitting tribute that some 345 years later, LMB give us their flea images. You can pan and zoom across a Mesolens image by clicking here

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Check out this short article from Wired.com explaining how the Mesolens works, and go to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology’s official site for the Mesolens. Can you distinguish between it and a normal light or electron microscope? What advantages will this give to researchers?

The Guardian has a gallery of images from Mesolens, and there is a short video showing image density from the LMB site, as well as a teachers guide to microscopy.

Virtual Urchin – Tutorials from Stanford

Here are some flash tutorials from the team at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford. They make good use of the properties of the sea urchin’s gametes for studies and learning experiences:

Fertilisation and Development Lab

Fertilisation and Development

“Gametes of sea urchins yield exceptional experiences in the classroom; teachers and students alike are riveted by being able to observe fertilization, cell division and embryonic development. The gametes are easy to use, the developmental stages are readily seen with the microscope and the rapidity of fertilization and early cell divisions allows the student to ask questions and obtain answers within the bounds of a normal classroom schedule. The utility of urchins for inquiry-based science is unrivaled.”

Head on over there to have a go at some of their labs, including a neat microscope tutorial, practice with microscope measurements, fertilisation and development and a ocean acidification investigation.


“Amazing Cells” from Learn.Genetics

Learn.Genetics at Utah have produced another excellent resource for Cell Biology: Amazing Cells

Go over and check out their tour inside the cell, find out how vesicle transport works, learn more about cell signalling, and get into the endosymbiotic theory of cell evolution.

It’s great for the IB Cells topic.

Cell Theory – Hooke and van Leeuwenhoek

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invents the microscope:

Rediscovering Robert Hooke (from the Royal Society): Click for video

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