We seldom consider the force with which our hearts beat through every moment of our lives. Most of us will only ever feel the dampened strength of these muscles at the arteries of the wrist or neck, perhaps through a stethoscope or in moments of excitement, exertion and fear. Take a moment to consider it now, if you will.
New Technique Lets Scientists See Through Whole Organisms
by Michael Keller
Seeing is believing when it comes to understanding how organisms work. For biologists trying to learn about what’s going on inside a body, one of the biggest obstacles is not being able to put their eyeballs on a part or system without other objects getting in the way. The answer is usually going in with one invasive tool or another, which ends up damaging or destroying the thing they’re trying to investigate.
Now California Institute of Technology scientists say they have improved upon a solution to clearing up the picture. The technique builds on work that garnered widespread attention last year. In that effort, assistant professor of biology Viviana Gradinaru and her team used detergent and a polymer to make a rodent brain transparent for study in unprecedented detail.
Demonstration of LIDAR laser imaging tech developed by Heikki Hyyti features two rotating sensors working simultaneously. The video embedded below shows a data capture using the device whilst moving:
Sensor fusion with inertial and LIDAR data to estimate the position and velocities in real time. The current 3D point cloud is compared to the previous one to reduce errors caused by the integration of noisy and uncertain inertial measurements. The visualization shows two adjacent 3D point clouds on top of each other as the device, attached to an all-terrain vehicle, is driven around a parking lot and a young forest. The color of point cloud is determined by its height. Higher points are colored more lighter and greener as lower points are brownish. The visualization uses open source Point Cloud Library (http://pointclouds.org/) to present 3D data.
Real time LIDAR tech is already used in various ways (one example is in Austrailia, robotic “shepherds” are being trialed to remotely check on cattle), but this is the first example I have seen online using this method.
A couple of much shorter video examples can be found here
Woman of 24 found to have no cerebellum in her brain!
A woman has reached the age of 24 without anyone realising she was missing a large part of her brain. The case highlights just how adaptable the organ is.
The discovery was made when the woman was admitted to the Chinese PLA General Hospital of Jinan Military Area Command in Shandong Province complaining of dizziness and nausea. She told doctors she’d had problems walking steadily for most of her life, and her mother reported that she hadn’t walked until she was 7 and that her speech only became intelligible at the age of 6.
Doctors did a CAT scan and immediately identified the source of the problem – her entire cerebellum was missing (see scan). The space where it should be was empty of tissue. Instead it was filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions the brain and provides defence against disease.
The cerebellum – sometimes known as the “little brain” – is located underneath the two hemispheres. It looks different from the rest of the brain because it consists of much smaller and more compact folds of tissue. It represents about 10 per cent of the brain’s total volume but contains 50 per cent of its neurons.
Galileo and Brahe and Newton, oh my! Some of our favorite manuscript treasures stopped by our Digital Imaging Center last week. Some of them may be making their way to the Smithsonian transcription center soon…
Recently, a fourth-year student at the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School, Phillip Barden, and Curator and Professor David Grimaldi, his graduate advisor, discerned nine “new” species of extinct ants preserved in Burmese amber (which, by the way, is fossilized tree resin).
Two of these species exhibit tusk-like mandibles, and appear to have been quite ferocious, possibly impaling prey with their uniquely expanded mouthparts.
Read more on the Museum’s blog about how CT scans and light microscopy in the Museum’s imaging laboratory are uncovering information about these species.