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New microscope techniques give deepest view yet of living cells

A new microscopy technique called nonlinear SIM gives a better look at how the cell’s internal scaffolding, or cytoskeleton, changes over time. Shown is a still image from a video of cytoskeletal proteins in a mouse embryonic fibroblast cell. 

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Two new microscopy techniques are helping scientists see smaller structures in living cells than ever glimpsed before.

Scientists can now view structures just 45 to 84 nanometers wide, Nobel prize-winning physicist Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute’s Janelia research campus in Ashburn, Va., and colleagues report in the Aug. 28 Science. The techniques beat the previous resolution of 100 nanometers and shatters the 250 nanometer “diffraction barrier,” imposed by the bending of light.

Using other tricks to improve the super-resolution methods also allowed the researchers to take ultraquick pictures with less cell-damaging light than before. As a result, scientists can watch sub-second interactions within cells, revealing new insights into how cells work.

This video, taken with the nonlinear SIM techniques that can reveal structures as small as 84 nanometers, shows relationships between the actin cytoskeleton (red-orange) and pockets called endosomes (green) that cells use to internalize materials. D. Li et al/ Science 2015

Planetary Science

Life after Pluto: New Horizons to head for Kuiper belt boulder

By Christopher Crockett 7:20pm, August 28, 2015
The New Horizons spacecraft has a second target in the Kuiper belt: an icy boulder dubbed 2014 MU69.

Tropical songbirds get their growth spurt late

By Allison Bohac 2:00pm, August 27, 2015
Tropical songbirds are late bloomers, but that delayed development may give them an advantage after leaving the nest.
Planetary Science

Mountains, craters revealed in latest images of dwarf planet Ceres

By Christopher Crockett 7:59am, August 27, 2015
The Dawn spacecraft sent back postcards from Ceres that show off the dwarf planet’s varied terrain.
Clinical Trials,, Health

Earlier is better for HIV treatment

By Nathan Seppa 5:00pm, August 26, 2015
People infected with HIV benefit from starting a drug regimen early, an international study finds.
Health,, Evolution,, Animals

Virus closely related to hepatitis A discovered in seals

By Sarah Schwartz 10:17am, August 25, 2015
Scientists have discovered a relative of the hepatitis A virus in seals.
Animals,, Ecology

Chimps keep numbers high as forest losses mount

By Bruce Bower 8:00pm, August 24, 2015
African apes show surprising resilience in face of forest destruction.
Planetary Science

Flyby of Dione yields stunning pictures of icy Saturn moon

By Christopher Crockett 5:09pm, August 24, 2015
Saturn’s moon Dione shows off its ripping landscapes during the Cassini spacecraft’s final flyby.
Immune Science,, Health

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise

By Nathan Seppa 2:00pm, August 19, 2015
An experimental vaccine against the MERS virus triggers immune protection, a new study finds.

Eight more galaxies found orbiting the Milky Way

By Christopher Crockett 8:25am, August 19, 2015
The dozens of satellite galaxies that orbit the Milky Way make excellent laboratories for studying dark matter.

Another tiny frog species found in sky islands of Brazil

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 12:00pm, August 18, 2015
Another new species of miniature frog has been discovered amongst the leaf litter in the high cloud forests of southern Brazil.
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