All posts by M.C.

A Neurobiologist Thinks Big — and Small

Ed Boyden has grand dreams. The aims of this neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology include decoding all of biology and achieving human enlightenment. But he also has his eye on the path that will get him to each goal. As he dives into an explanation of a world-changing idea, he frequently declares, “Step one!”

Seeing the micro and macro at the same time is what Boyden’s latest invention, expansion microscopy, is all about. Researchers start by embedding a piece of brain or other tissue in an expanding polymer, similar to the absorbent stuff inside disposable diapers. The polymer forms a dense web; its threads, only a nanometer or two apart, are anchored to points within the sample. Then the scientists add water. The … Read the rest