You Have To See It To Believe It

Grind for October 22nd, 2018
“Understanding is a two-way street.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Freeze Frame

The Headline

World’s fastest camera can photograph light as it moves through space

The Grind

A new camera invented by researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Quebec is so fast that it can capture a pulse of light as it travels through space.

The camera is capable of taking 10 trillion shots per second. This is more than double the previous record of 4.4 trillion, which was set in 2015.

The Details

The team was able to achieve such speeds by building on pre-existing technology called “compressed ultrafast photography” – which can take 100 billion frames per second.

By combining that technology with the recording of a static image and some very trick math, the team was able to reach 10 trillion frames per second.

The camera is “an achievement in itself,” says lead author Jinyang Liang, “but we already see possibilities for increasing the speed to up to one quadrillion frames per second!”

I Can See Clearly Now

The Headline

Scientists grow human retinas in a lab to learn more about color vision

The Grind

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University successfully grew human retinas in a dish to learn more about how color vision develops.

“Everything we examine looks like a normal developing eye, just growing in a dish,” explains biologist Robert Johnston. “You have a model system that you can manipulate without studying humans directly.” And more importantly, without poking around in someone’s eye.

The Details

The human retinas or “organoids” were created using stem cells.

As noted in the report, most vision research has been conducted on animals without the dynamic color vision of humans.

“Trichromatic color vision delineates us from most other mammals,” says lead author Kiara Eldred. “Our research is really trying to figure out what pathways these cells take to give us that special color vision.”

The team’s key discovery was that thyroid hormone controlled whether cells developed into blue-, red-, or green-detecting cells. The discovery helps us understand why premature babies have a higher risk of vision disorders.

“If we can answer what leads a cell to its terminal fate, we are closer to being able to restore color vision for people who have damaged photoreceptors,” continues Eldred. “This is a really beautiful question, both visually and intellectually – what is it that allows us to see color?”

In the future, the team hopes to use organoids to learn more about macular degeneration – one of the leading causes of blindness.

“What’s exciting about this is our work establishes human organoids as a model system to study mechanisms of human development,” says Johnston. “What’s really pushing the limit here is that these organoids take nine months to develop just like a human baby. So what we’re really studying is fetal development.”

Did you know… People in parts of Western China put salt in their tea instead of sugar.