jueves, 8 de enero de 2015

The Invisible World

We are all surrounded by microorganisms, they live on us within us and around us, they affect everything we do, yet most people have no idea what they look like. Using the latest technology it is possible to see into this normally invisible world.

martes, 6 de enero de 2015

Microorganisms: "Microscopic Life: The World of the Invisible"

"A study of the plant and animal life found in a jar of ordinary pond water. Illustrates and explains the difference between microscopic plants and animals; between one-celled and many-celled organisms; the meaning of colonial organization; and the various processes of food-gathering, digestion and reproduction."

Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archive, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).


A microscope (from the Greek: μικρός, mikrós, "small" and σκοπεῖν, skopeîn, "to look" or "see") is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy. Microscopic means invisible to the eye unless aided by a microscope.

There are many types of microscopes, the most common and first to be invented is the optical microscope which uses light to image the sample. Other major types of microscopes are the electron microscope (both the transmission electron microscope and the scanning electron microscope) and the various types of scanning probe microscope...


The first microscope to be developed was the optical microscope, although the original inventor is not easy to identify. An early microscope was made in 1590 in Middelburg, Netherlands. Two eyeglass makers are variously given credit: Hans Lippershey (who developed an early telescope) and Zacharias Janssen. Giovanni Faber coined the name microscope for Galileo Galilei's compound microscope in 1625 (Galileo had called it the "occhiolino" or "little eye").

Rise of modern light microscopy

The first detailed account of the interior construction of living tissue based on the use of a microscope did not appear until 1644, in Giambattista Odierna's L'occhio della mosca, or The Fly's Eye.

It was not until the 1660s and 1670s that the microscope was used extensively for research in Italy, The Netherlands and England. Marcelo Malpighi in Italy began the analysis of biological structures beginning with the lungs. Robert Hooke's Micrographia had a huge impact, largely because of its impressive illustrations. The greatest contribution came from Antonie van Leeuwenhoek who discovered red blood cells and spermatozoa and helped popularise microscopy as a technique. On 9 October 1676, Van Leeuwenhoek reported the discovery of micro-organisms.

In 1893 August Köhler developed a key technique for sample illumination, Köhler illumination, which is central to modern light microscopy. This method of sample illumination gives rise to extremely even lighting and overcomes many limitations of older techniques of sample illumination. Further developments in sample illumination came from Fritz Zernike in 1953 and George Nomarski 1955 for their development of phase contrast and differential interference contrast illumination which allow imaging of transparent samples...


A microorganism (from the Greek: μικρός, mikrós, "small" and ὀργανισμός, organismós, "organism"; also spelled micro-organism, micro organism or microörganism) or microbe is a microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell (unicellular), cell clusters, or multicellular relatively complex organisms. The study of microorganisms is called microbiology, a subject that began with Anton van Leeuwenhoek's discovery of microorganisms in 1675, using a microscope of his own design.

Microorganisms are very diverse; they include bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa; microscopic plants (green algae); and animals such as rotifers and planarians. Some microbiologists also include viruses, but others consider these as nonliving. Most microorganisms are unicellular (single-celled), but this is not universal, since some multicellular organisms are microscopic, while some unicellular protists and bacteria, like Thiomargarita namibiensis, are macroscopic and visible to the naked eye.

Microorganisms live in all parts of the biosphere where there is liquid water, including soil, hot springs, on the ocean floor, high in the atmosphere and deep inside rocks within the Earth's crust. Microorganisms are critical to nutrient recycling in ecosystems as they act as decomposers. As some microorganisms can fix nitrogen, they are a vital part of the nitrogen cycle, and recent studies indicate that airborne microbes may play a role in precipitation and weather...

domingo, 4 de enero de 2015

El agua del cometa que sigue Rosetta es distinta a la de la Tierra

Ratios D/H en distintos cuerpos del sistema solar. / ESA
El origen del agua en nuestro planeta es objeto de debate continuo entre los científicos. Una de las posibilidades, y así lo apuntaban estudios previos, es que procediera de los cometas, pero los datos de la sonda Rosetta señalan que no es así, al menos en el caso del cometa 67P al que persigue. Su agua en forma de vapor es distinta a la de la Tierra, según un artículo que aparece esta semana en Science.

El espectrómetro de masas ROSINA de la nave ha confirmado que la proporción entre el deuterio (D, isótopo del hidrógeno con un neutrón) y el hidrógeno (H) del agua de ese cometa es tres veces mayor que la de los océanos terrestres. Ese ratio D/H es un indicador para comparar el agua de distintos cuerpos del sistema solar, y parece que la de los asteroides es mucho más parecida a la terrestre, por lo que estos objetos son mejores candidatos para haber traído este elemento esencial para la vida a nuestro planeta.