The sheer beauty of the Universe can be forgotten during our daily lives, but let’s take a moment to appreciate its brilliance. The images below are the majestic swirls of hydrogen and helium of Saturn’s atmosphere at its North Pole.
You’re sitting around the campfire on a breezy autumn night, surrounded by familiar faces. Someone just passed you a djembe drum they’ve turned into a bong. Two of your more musically-inclined friends take out their acoustic guitars and begin jamming out a high-energy folk song they’d been working on, and you don’t know if it’s the party favors or what, but those guys look like they’re on the same wavelength. Don’t worry, it’s not just the drugs. Their brains actually are more attuned to one another.
And you thought the epitome of photography was that time you Photoshopped all those cats falling off of the Statue of Liberty. As cool as all the recent photos of geniuses’ brains have been — such as Albert Einstein and Charles Babbage — Erizo di Fabrizio may have taken the most important science image in the ultra-modern age.
DNA’s double helix was originally discovered using X-ray crystallography by James Watson and Francis Crick almost 60 years ago, but our knowledge of it has always rested more on solid theories rather than clear visual evidence. Di Fabrizio and his team at the University of Genoa, Italy changed that, and though the corkscrew they revealed can’t open the wine bottle, a celebration is still in order.
The team extracted DNA strands from a dilute solution and laid them out on a patterned bed of nanoscopic silicon pillars, whose water-repellent nature quickly evaporated any moisture and allowed the strands to rest alone on the pillars. On the bottom of the base, they drilled tiny holes and shone beams of electrons through, granting the images a higher resolution. Somebody then told the strand to say “Cheeseburger” and the image was captured.
One of the most important things to keep handy when you’re working in any kind of journalism is a nice big salt lick, just so you’ll have plenty of grains around anytime somebody reports something that seems far-fetched, too good to be true, or just plain unlikely. Case in point: last week John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the Curiosity mission, told NPR that they had discovered Something Interesting in a Martian soil sample, something that was going to be “one for the history books,” but of course they couldn’t say what it was just yet. Naturally, this news soon spread across the interwebs, leading to speculation that they might have, maybe, just possibly, found some sort of life up there on the Red Planet. Well, here we are a week later and NASA has downgraded their announcement from “earthshaking” to “interesting.”