News

Cell Division: The Movie (In 3D!)

There may be some new movies coming out in 3-D, and no, I'm not talking about a Yogi Bear sequel. A new live-cell microscope invented by scientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus lets researchers use a thin sheet of light to reveal three-dimensional shapes of cellular landmarks. It then images them at high speed, so users can create movies that demonstrate biological processes like cell division.

Janelia Farm group leader Eric Betzig said there's only so much one can learn from studying dead cells, fixed in position. I agree. Sure, the advancement of the three-dimensional movies raises obvious questions: Will microscopists charge more for us to watch them, and will the 3D movies about biological processes be so focused on the technology that they’ll ignore thoughtful storyline and character development? But who wants to look at a lifeless 2-D cell image, when you can check out some live-action cells in 3-D?

Read more about the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's work.