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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Colours of the brainbow

by Jean Livet, Harvard University
Brainbow-ing involves neurons of the brain being mapped with flourescent proteins, allowing them to glow with specific colours under a light source. By controlling the proteins involved it is possible to give each neuron a different colour.

In 2000 Jeff Lichtman and Joshua Sanes began playing around with the neurons of mice, and after crossing different genetic lines, created mice with three different shades of cells, blue, green and yellow. By 2007 the Brainbow technique was developed.
Tamily Weissman, "Brainbow” transgenic mouse hippocampus (40X)

The Havard Gazette describes the process in full detail if you're interested.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Spiral nebula

Messier 101
Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing and additional imaging - Robert Gendler

There's no denying it - galaxies are beautiful. M101, also know as the Pinwheel Galaxy, is a particularly sexy set of spiral arms and is 170,000 light-years across (twice the size of our own humble milky way).

The red marbling comes from hydrogen gas and occurs in areas where new stars are formed. The white and blue lights are stars and dust and, behind them, background light and galaxies.

M101 is in the constellation Ursa Major, know to me as a child as the Big Dipper or the Plough which can be seen through most of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Mostly though, it's pretty.