Alcohol under a microscope by Bevshots
Alcohol under a microscope by Bevshots
(Click each image for short details)
Every year for nearly four decades, Nikon has received hundreds of entries in its Small World microscope photography contest. Every year, the images are more amazing, and this year’s winners — selected from nearly 2,000 submissions — are undoubtedly the best yet.
Super-close-ups of garlic, snail fossils, stinging nettle, bat embryos, bone cancer and a ladybug are among the top images this year. The first place winner (above) shows the blood-brain barrier in a living zebrafish embryo, which Nikon believes is the first image ever to show the formation of this barrier in a live animal.
“We used fluorescent proteins to look at brain endothelial cells and watched the blood-brain barrier develop in real-time,” the winners, Jennifer Peters and Michael Taylor of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, said in a press release. “We took a 3-dimensional snapshot under a confocal microscope. Then, we stacked the images and compressed them into one – pseudo coloring them in rainbow to illustrate depth.”
Here are the top 20 photomicrographs from the 38th Nikon Small World competition, selected for their originality, informational content, and visual impact by a panel of scientists, journalists and optical imaging experts. — Continue over at WiredScience
Above is an electron micrograph of a cannabis sativa leaf.
Disclaimer: When conducting and even reading scientific research, it’s important to do so removed of pre-conceived social and political biases - take the science at face value.
Research on the psychoactive drug, cannabis, or marijuana, has been ablaze for some time. An article published by Robert Melamedeon the online Harm Reduction Journal draws the distinction between tobacco smoke (that contains the highly addictive compound, nicotine), and cannabis smoke (which contains the psychoactive, THC). At this point in time, it’s medically established that marijuana, even when smoked, has less severe adverse effects on the human body than tobacco. Yet the question remains - what are the degree of the detrimental effects that cannabis does have, and are there any medically beneficial effects?
Some research points to cannabis killing a variety of cancer types, including lung, breast and prostate, leukemia, lymphoma, skin, and glioma cancers. At the same time, however, a German study found that low THC doses encouraged lung cancer in in-vitro cells. Seemingly contradicting results, no? Just keep in mind that while nicotine and THC are chemically similar, their actual receptors in the human body vary in cell type distribution, which is what ultimately determines the effects on the human body.
… cannabis typically down-regulates immunologically-generated free radical production by promoting a Th2 immune cytokine profile. Furthermore, THC inhibits the enzyme necessary to activate some of the carcinogens found in smoke. In contrast, tobacco smoke increases the likelihood of carcinogenesis by overcoming normal cellular checkpoint protective mechanisms through the activity of respiratory epithelial cell nicotine receptors. Cannabinoids receptors have not been reported in respiratory epithelial cells (in skin they prevent cancer), and hence the DNA damage checkpoint mechanism should remain intact after prolonged cannabis exposure.
I highly recommend this article, which you can read fully here. It gives great insights into cell biology within a biomedical context.
Image: Courtesy of David Scharf, via The Scientist
Article: Melamede, Robert. “Cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic.” Harm Reduction Journal, 2005. Web. 10 October 2012.
Food photography through the microscope
Red blood cells. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of red blood cells (erythrocytes) on the connective tissue surface of a muscle. Some of the red blood cells are crenated (spiked). They have dehydrated and distorted in shape. The main function of red blood cells is to distribute oxygen to body tissues, and to carry waste carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Magnification: x3000 when printed at 10 centimetres wide.
A solution of crystallized vitamin A at 40-times magnification.
Image by Stefan Eberhard, University of Georgia.
Coagulation is a complex process by which blood forms clots. It is an important part of hemostasis, the cessation of blood loss from a damaged vessel, wherein a damaged blood vessel wall is covered by a platelet and fibrin-containing clot to stop bleeding and begin repair of the damaged vessel.
A false-colored, scanning electron micrograph of a neutrophil.
White Blood Cells Mediate Insulin Resistance
Neutrophils’ role is a surprise – and a potential new target for treating diabetes
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say neutrophils, an abundant type of white blood cell typically tasked with attacking bacteria and other foreign invaders, also plays an unexpected role in mediating insulin resistance – the central characteristic of type 2 diabetes, which afflicts an estimated 26 million Americans.
The findings are published in the August 5, 2012 Advance Online Publication of Nature Medicine.
Neutrophils are the first immune cells to respond to tissue inflammation, and can promote chronic inflammation by summoning other white blood cells called macrophages. Chronic low-grade inflammation – common in adipose or fat tissue – is an important cause of systemic insulin resistance.
Using liver and fat cells from mice and humans and live mouse models, a team led by Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD, associate dean for scientific affairs at UC San Diego Health Sciences and professor of medicine, discovered that an enzyme secreted by neutrophils called neutrophil elastase (NE) impairs insulin signaling and boosts resistance. Conversely, deletion of NE in obese mice fed a high-fat diet improved insulin sensitivity.
“These results are largely unexpected,” said Da Young Oh, an assistant project scientist in Olefsky’s lab and study co-author. “Although several immune cells have been established in the etiology of insulin resistance, the role of neutrophils in this process has remained unclear until now.”
False-colour SEM of a group of human chromosomes
Cannabis plant. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the surface of a cannabis (Cannabis sativa) plant. The pointed hairs are called lithocyst cells. They contain cystoliths (calcium carbonate crystals). Glandular cells called trichomes are also present. These are capitate trichomes tbat have stalks. These trichomes secrete a resin containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component of cannabis when used as medication.