Tag Archives: Q&A

Prepping for a Flood of Heavenly Bodies

This is a story of getting the good out of the bad, said Mario Jurić. As a boy in Yugoslavia, he would page through an introductory physics book that belonged to his grandfather. He learned that stars came in different colors, and that these colors signified different temperatures. So for his eighth-grade science fair project, Jurić wanted to capture that spectral light. His teacher lent him a prism. Jurić connected that prism to an old-fashioned camera using a cardboard toilet-paper tube and duct tape. He planned to keep the shutter open for a couple of minutes, let starlight pass through the prism, and capture that spread-out light on film.

But Zagreb, where he lived, was home to about a million people. Under ordinary circumstances the city’s … Read the rest

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