December 1, 2012

Microscopic pyramids can cage living cells

Filed under: Science by Branko Collin @ 3:37 pm

Researchers at the University of Twente have developed a way of trapping cells in microscopic pyramids.

According to the university, these pyramids allow the study of cells in a three dimensional environment. “Compounds and protein-like deposits were soon seen forming between cells in nearby pyramids. Changes in cell phenotype can therefore be studied better than in a flat plane, as this is the right way to grow cells. This yields a promising tool for research into such things as tissue regeneration.”

Building microscopic silicone pyramids was accidentally discovered. The technology can also be used to make microscopic writing utensils.

(Link: New Scientist. Photo of a macroscopic pyramid by Wilhelm Joys Andersen, some rights reserved.)

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January 15, 2012

Water flea making music

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 3:03 pm

A little video joke posted to Youtube yesterday by micro photographer and videographer Wim van Egmond.

We mentioned him earlier, and he seems to have moved his website to, which BoingBoing calls a ‘virtual wunderkammer’ of the microscopic world.

If you are in the Netherlands and speak Dutch, I recommend watching the Het Klokhuis episode about Van Egmond, in which he reveals his secrets to Dutch children. One of them is to use your mother’s credit card to scrape pond scum off of poles.

(Hat tip to Waa. Video: Youtube / Wim van Egmond.)

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March 26, 2009

Van Leeuwenhoek microscope to be auctioned

Filed under: Gadgets,History,Nature by Branko Collin @ 6:37 pm

One of only three surviving silver microscopes of the Father of microbiology, Renaissance scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), will be sold on April 8 at an auction at Christie’s in London, writes De Telegraaf (Dutch). The auction house expects to sell the silver device for somewhere between 75,000 and 105,000 euro.

The other two surviving Leeuwenhoek microscopes are at the Deutsches Museum in Munich and the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden.

Van Leeuwenhoek built his own microscopes, superior to what was available at the time (the first microscope was invented in Middelburg seven years before his birth), but kept the secret to his lenses meticulously hidden, and only in the 1950s did scientists manage to reconstruct them. It turned out that rather than grinding lenses, Van Leeuwenhoek seems to have used a glass fusing method, which allowed him to quickly make a microscope, of which he constructed around 400 during his lifetime.

The Internet Archive has The Select Works of Antony van Leeuwenhoek, translations into English of Van Leeuwenhoek’s many observations, unfortunately without his drawings. Fascinating stuff, almost like being alive in the 21st century.

The silver microscope that will be sold at Christie’s was used by Van Leeuwenhoek to discover sperm cells. The current owner found it during the 1970s among old laboratory equipment.

Portrait of Van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje (1650-1693).

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