As Virginia Hughes noted in a recent piece for National Geographic’s Phenomena blog, the most common depiction of a synapse (that communicating junction between two neurons) is pretty simple:

External image

Signal molecules leave one neuron from that bulby thing, float across a gap, and are picked up by receptors on the other neuron. In this way, information is transmitted from cell to cell … and thinking is possible.

But thanks to a bunch of German scientists - we now have a much more complete and accurate picture. They’ve created the first scientifically accurate 3D model of a synaptic bouton (that bulby bit) complete with every protein and cytoskeletal element.

This effort has been made possible only by a collaboration of specialists in electron microscopy, super-resolution light microscopy (STED), mass spectrometry, and quantitative biochemistry.

says the press release. The model reveals a whole world of neuroscience waiting to be explored. Exciting stuff!

You can access the full video of their 3D model here.

Credit: Benjamin G. Wilhelm, Sunit Mandad, Sven Truckenbrodt, Katharina Kröhnert, Christina Schäfer, Burkhard Rammner, Seong Joo Koo, Gala A. Claßen, Michael Krauss, Volker Haucke, Henning Urlaub, Silvio O. Rizzoli

I rly want Rick’s pansexuality to be mentioned at some point like Morty makes some vaguely heteronormative comment and Rick is so derisive like, oh, oh you think I’m straight, do you, Morty, with your—wi-with all those assumptions stuffed in your brain I wonder how you can think—oh that’s right! You don’t, do you Morty. You nev-URRP-never stopped to think that among all the other bullshit earth standards that have been dismantled before your very eyes, compulsory heterosexuality might be o-one of them. Fr-frankly I-I’m disgu-rrp-sted, Morty. I mean, you were literally there when I was banging Unity. What did you think that was? Unity doesn’t have a goddamn gender, M-Morty. A-and neither—neither does my sexuality. Stop being such a useless sack of turds, Morty.

tre simple regler

1. hvis du ikke går efter, hvad du vil have, får du det aldrig

2. hvis du ikke spørger, vil svaret altid være nej

3. hvis du ikke tager et skridt frem, vil du altid være det samme sted

Jeg tror, at hvis piger, stoppede med at skamme sig over sex, og drenge holdte op med at være røvhuller omkring det, så ville verden være et bedre sted.
—  En samtale mellem 2 drenge i bussen

engang spurgte du mig hvad det bedste ved dig var og jeg har faktisk tænkt over det og kommet frem til et svar. Det bedste ved dig er at du lader mig købe verdens mest gule 90'erstyle jakke og stadig vil gå rundt med mig offenligt. Det bedste ved dig er din humor og at du får mig til at grine. Det bedste ved dig er din stemme og dine øjne og din mund. Det bedste ved dig er måden du viser interesse på og måden du bevæger dig på og dine arme og dine hænder. Det bedste ved dig er, at du aldrig prøver at lægge for meget mellem linjerne. Det bedste ved dig er at det er simpelt. At jeg føler at jeg kan fortælle dig hvis jeg har det dårligt og at du kan forstå mig. Det bedste ved dig er at når jeg er sammen med dig har jeg lyst til at skrive sange om dine øjne. Eller synge med på diverse rocksange eller danse eller spise pasta med ketchup og bolsjer. Eller tude af en overdosis af ren glæde. Det bedste ved dig dine kys. Og at du er omsorgsfuld, sjov og sexet på samme tid. Det bedste ved dig er din tålmodighed og tolerance og din selvironi.

Det bedste ved dig er at du er alt det, og at du er helt din egen og alligevel min


Peering into the nanoworld

In the world of fundamental and applied research, fluorescence microscopy is an invaluable tool to witness biological phenomena and events. In order to do this, scientists use fluorescent proteins and tags to follow a particular protein. Thus, the ability to capture this emitted light is directly limited by its diffraction. It means that the resolution of conventional light microscopy is not supposed to exceed 200 nm. Last year, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Eric Betzig, William Moerner and Stefan Hell for their involvement in the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, bringing fluorescence microscopy right down to the nanoscale. Not only does it sound cool, it also means that now we can precisely visualize individual molecules inside a cell, a thought that lied only in the realms of science fiction ten years ago. 

Although there are now many tricks to achieve super-resolution, two distinct techniques were awarded in 2014. Eric Betzig took part in the development of PALM (Photo-activated localization microscopy) [in the living room of a colleague]. This technique relies on photo-activable fluorescent proteins which will emit light at different time points. The image can thus be reconstructed later with much better accuracy. I suggest watching this video to better understand. An example is featured as the first picture above. A related technique called STORM (STochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy) is displayed in the second and third picture. A combination of both can be seen on the last picture.

A second type of super-resolved microscopy was mentioned : STED (STimulated Emission Depletion). As stated in its name, STED microscopy relies on a high intensity laser which will delete the halo around a fluorophore. See fourth and fifth picture above for an example (confocal on the left, STED on the right).

It sounds complicated, but these techniques relying on the basic principles of light and molecules allow to bypass a limit which seemed impossible to overcome a few years ago. The impact of these men and the improvements in terms of optics but also chemistry - with the apparition of new, photoactivable and more stable fluorophores - will propel scientific progress for years to come, taking microscopy to the next level. The “nano” one.

Hvad siger du til, at vi drikker øl og ser tegnefilm, mens vi kysser i ny og næ og omfavner følelsen af at være det helt rette sted, på det helt rigtige tidspunkt?