What cells actually look like.
March 8, 2022 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Multimodal Optical System with Adaptive Imaging Correction (MOSAIC) is bringing scientists a 3d view of living cells like we've never seen before. A longer view of immune cell migration in zebrafish ear. Several more samples. A writeup with more detail. And the original paper.

(It was new in 2018 and 2019, but I thought it was cool and couldn't find anything about it here previously)
posted by [insert clever name here] (10 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
The section in the third video where they segment out all the different cells and explode them into separated blobs (in "clathrin-mediated endocytosis") feels like what you'd get if Michael Bay had decided to become a microscopist.
posted by biogeo at 5:08 PM on March 8, 2022

As someone who spent 5 years of his life (a lifetime ago) studying a very small area of the developing neural tube and trying to visualize cells in three dimensions from a series of stained 8 micron sections, this is beyond exciting. We had an idea of how cells behaved dynamically based on time lapse recordings of how they crawled across the surface of a culture dish, but to see the same thing in 3D is beyond exhilarating. Thank you so much for this.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:24 PM on March 8, 2022 [13 favorites]

So cool! Also, I love the look with those goggles, very movie scientist. But really, improvements in imaging have always led to amazing things. It sometimes feels like we’ve figured out how to see all the things, macro and micro, and then some group somewhere makes another huge leap and it’s clear how much we had been previously missing. Like every time I get a new glasses prescription and remember that trees have individual leaves, but, yknow, revolutionizing science and art.

I am only a little disappointed that they don’t look anything like the edible cell models we made out of candy and snacks in ninth grade biology. Imagine the uproar if they really did look like gushers and cheese balls…
posted by Mizu at 5:50 PM on March 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

It is elegant and beautiful, you could say magical in it's intricacy. Then you pan all the way out to Ganymeades's shadow on Jupiter, or back in to women of Ukraine in flower headdresses and this world is doubtlessly rare, life is so excellent and complicated. There is no junk, except for what we make.
posted by Oyéah at 7:57 PM on March 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

Oyéah: There is no junk, except for what we make
Except for the recurrent pharyngeal nerve but I guess we and giraffes make that too.

But I came in to give tribs to John "Nobel 2002" Sulston who, in the 1970s, documented the movement of individual dividing cells in developing (nematode) embryos by looking at them down a microscope for hours at a time. If he had to go for a pee he lost the train of cells dividing. No confocal cameras then, no MOSAIC: just a worm, an eye and a variety of colored pencils. Eventually Sulston and others knew the lineage, back to the egg, for each of the 900 cells of the adult worm.
JS: Seeing those first cells divide! Because the previous work looking at fixed cells just hadn't gone anywhere. No one had managed to see anything. But I was just sitting there and suddenly I knew it was all open. Because I could see that first cell divide and I knew I could see its daughter divide.
JG: Did you wait for its daughter to divide before rushing out of the room?
JS: Of course! The very first viewing I carried on right to the end. I was entranced. And those divisions are quite quick. Within an hour, it's already beginning to swell up to the next stage.

posted by BobTheScientist at 11:51 PM on March 8, 2022 [8 favorites]

fwiw... also btw... posted by kliuless at 1:01 AM on March 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

This is so amazing I almost feel dishonest snarking about the "this will help us understand in detail how viruses enter cells *CGI of virus punching through the cell wall like a cannonball*" part.
posted by you at 1:08 AM on March 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Wish that video gave credit to the people who actually designed the MOSAIC scope -- Wesley Legant and Dan Milkie.

Generally, these fancy microscopes take 10x the effort to achieve 2x the results, which might be worth it in some domains, but I see many biologists who use a lattice light sheet a few times and go right back to spinning disk confocal just because the latter is much much simpler to work with.

I'm definitely not the least bit jaded about research in light microscopy. Not at all.
posted by serif at 7:13 AM on March 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

And a little bit towards the other end of the scale, there’s the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
posted by cenoxo at 6:50 PM on March 11, 2022

This is really cool until I start focusing on the fact that all of this is happening inside my body right this very second and I have to hold still because OMG WHAT HAPPENS IF I JOSTLE SOMETHING.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2022

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