Thursday, 20 November 2008

Beautiful zebra fish picture

I realise I'm getting into the habit of just copying things PZ Myers posts on his Pharyngula blog, but this really is a stunning image.

He says: "This image was made using brainbow fluorescent microscopy. Transgenic fish carry an assortment of fluorescent protein genes that are randomly flipped on in the cells to produce these multicolored views of a subset of the neurons."

Click to see a larger version, and gasp in awe and wonder! Which idiot said science takes away the beauty? In this case, science shows the beauty!

To translate into English, you're looking down on the top of the brain of a very tiny fish. The brownish blobs on the left are its eyes and the tapering structure to the right is the spinal cord.

They seem to have tinkered with the genes of these fish so some of the nerves produce proteins which fluoresce in different colours, presumably when illuminated with UV or something. Since a fish this small is transparent anyway, anything that shines is visible, so here we see individual nerves snaking through the brain and down the nerve cord. Fabuloso, I say!

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