In a Ghostly Mirror Rainbow

Europium and terbium are two rare earth elements that share a colorful similarity: they emit bright red and green light, respectively, when exposed to ultraviolet light. In the image above, there are five thin polymer films embedded with different concentrations of europium and terbium. The far-left film contains primarily terbium, hence the bright green light, while the far-right film contains primarily the red light-emitting europium. … Continue reading In a Ghostly Mirror Rainbow

Cell Fate

As humans, we are aware that we are committed to a certain fate: we are born, we live, and we inevitably die. We are less aware that each of the trillion cells in our bodies also have a fate of their own, and everyday each cell has to decide whether to give birth, live, or die. Not all cells can give “birth” (aka, divide via … Continue reading Cell Fate

Central Dogma

Our bodies contain numerous cell types that look drastically different and perform various functions that allow us to eat, breathe, move, and reproduce. While all cells have the same DNA as a “blueprint”, their working set of proteins can vary drastically. The process of making protein from DNA is known as the “central dogma”. However, it is not a linear step, but instead requires two … Continue reading Central Dogma

Mitosis

There are an estimated 37.2 trillion cells in the average adult human body. 37.2 trillion is a staggering number, especially when we remember that we all develop from a single fertilized egg cell. So how does one cell become 37.2 trillion cells? Through mitosis. Mitosis is the process of cell division, in which one cell produces two new daughter cells that are genetically identical to … Continue reading Mitosis

Mother’s Mitochondria

While celebrating Mother’s Day over brunch, don’t just thank your mom for all her love and nurture, remember to also mention mitochondria, like Leah Bury, our featured artist for June, suggests in her science-y Mother’s Day card. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells, which means they generate the energy that keeps cells (and by extension you) running. Interestingly, we inherit our mitochondria entirely from … Continue reading Mother’s Mitochondria

Bees

By carrying pollen from plant to plant in their quest for nectar, bees help to facilitate plant reproduction, giving bees an essential role in the sustainability of our agriculture.  Bee populations have been threatened over the last decade by a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, where the bees leave their hives and never return.  This year, however, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released positive … Continue reading Bees

Vines

Plants grow in interesting ways. You may have noticed that your houseplants “lean” towards the window, seeking the sunlight. This movement towards light is called phototropism. Tropism is a general term referring to any instance of growth or movement of an organism in response to the environment. Vines display another kind of tropism known as thigmotropism, meaning they respond to touch. In this set of … Continue reading Vines

Colonies 5

The colonies in this image display some of the diversity of pigment production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The blue-green colonies contain a pigment called pyocyanin, which is known to be toxic to human cells and helps the bacteria establish a niche during infections. The colonies containing a brown halo produce the brown pigment pyomelanin, which is thought to help the bacteria scavenge for iron, an essential … Continue reading Colonies 5

Colonies 4

To get around, Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium use a number of motility strategies, such as twitching and gliding. In this image, we see a special kind of bacterial motility behavior known as swarming, where a mass of bacteria moves collectively across a surface.  This is an example of singled celled bacterial species acting in a multicellular way. For a group of cells to swarm, the bacterium … Continue reading Colonies 4