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cellular mathmos

Thermal micros*c*opy of a cells heat weather
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(+8, -1)
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I was playing with David Macaulay's pinball science CD- ROM and my mind wandered to heat in a cellular box. Just like the pinball follows circuits in the machine, does heat flow in circuits like weather inside the biological cell? Is the nucleus hotter or colder than its surroundings?

I was thinking there must be heat circuits or currents because of the organelles size/shape and varying densities of cytoplasmic components. I would have thought mitochondria are going to be hotter than the rest of the cell because of ATP supplying oxidation reactions.The scale of this cellular view would probably be an overview like the thermal imaging of a human showing hot pits versus cool extremities. If infrared images were taken over time of a cell with a thermal camera microscope then it might show the heat circuits the cell uses. The temperature range would have to tightly controlled to give definition between parts of the cell.

The pictures could be viewed via a large monitor to give the standard mathmos art.

wjt, May 18 2009

IR Microscope 1 http://www.kla-tenc...iy5oCFRKLxwodvAoD3Q
[cowtamer, May 20 2009]

IR Microscope 2 http://www.x20.org/...ared_microscope.htm
no cellular examples yet... [cowtamer, May 20 2009]

Almost Baked! http://www.phy-astr...nfected%20Cells.pdf
Imaging of cell death via IR microscope [cowtamer, May 20 2009]

More Bakeware http://www.findrsco...0000-1149884477.jsp
Infrared microscopy attachment -- I want to see someone bake this [cowtamer, May 20 2009]

words can have more than one meaning https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathmos
Barbarella reference [wjt, May 28 2019]


       I must have missed the last episode.
WcW, May 18 2009

       we all know that leather men lack fleshy substance.....
WcW, May 19 2009

       /leather men/??? Are they like over baked gingerbread men?   

       When it comes to the tiny, only the ones with the expensive machines can flesh it out for the rest of us.
wjt, May 19 2009

       what mechanism would you propose hindering the heat to disperse?
loonquawl, May 19 2009


       Actually, studying heat differences in various parts of a cell (nucleus, ribosomes ... even Different ribosomes) sounds intriguing; especially at different times and when different genes are turned on/off. I especially like your idea of moving thermal 'circuits' - (if I understand you correctly) - and how it might effect the (horribly tangled/complicated) folding of proteins.   

       But the Real Nobel question is: does anybody have any idea how this can be done? (Considering that IR waves (heat waves) are generally too long to view inside a cell and higher frequencies are often necesitated; which, of course, destroy the cell, ie: electron microsope.)   

       (BTW: David Macaulay the architect? Big fan of his...)
Speed Razor, May 19 2009

       [loonquawl] Different shapes and makeup of organelles . Fatty surfaces as opposed to volumes of polar molecules would have different heat effects.Different areas would have different heats because of crowding and types of reactions/collisions.If there are repeated differentials a current system would be likely.   

       [Speed Razor] Everyone has seen the thermal imaging of a human. I was thinking this could be scaled so to see a single cell. The scale probably would not be molecular, to start with, but rather the size of organelles just to get an overview. if a cell was sliced open then, as the heat bled away, some data could be gleaned. A whole lot of cells and slices might give a weather like picture.   

       David Macaulay maybe an architect. This David M. is an author of kids->adults educational books.
wjt, May 19 2009

       This is actually an intriguing idea. The first problem, as Mr. Razor pointed out, is the long wavelength (>600nm) of infra-red radiation. Modern optical microscopy can resolve below the wavelength of the light but, even so, resolution will be poor compared to the dimensions of a cell (say 10um). One possible solution would be to use an inert dye which responded to temperature changes by colour or fluorescence changes, if such a dye could be created.   

       A second problem is that, on the scales under consideration, I would expect any thermal gradients to be very, very tiny - I'd be amazed if there was more than a 0.1°C difference between any two points in a cell. This is going to be very hard to distinguish.   

       However, it is a very interesting idea, so [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2009

       [wjt], to "slice open" a cell without smooshing it all over the place, you'll either need to (a) freeze it first, (b) cut it with a laser, or (c) concentrate your thoughts on it very hard. The first two will tend to mess with your heat measurements; I'm not sure about the third.
hob, May 20 2009

       we are talking about Barberella here, right?
WcW, May 20 2009

       with the heat conductivity of water being as high as it is, and it's specific heat also being high, i do not see how a gradient should be established along distances of ~10e-6m. Even if the fatty envelope of an organelle should have an extraordinarily low coefficient of conductivity, it won't matter because the width of a heat barrier goes into the computation, and those are ~10^-8m thick, max. -
loonquawl, May 20 2009

       [loonquawl] reactions and collisions have to equate their heat throughout the cell somehow so there must be differentials. Surely the heat would rather take the easiest path around an organelle rather than through.   

       [WcW] Yes, mathmos or larva lamp type of cellular imaginings.   

       So, other than the scale is outside the wavelength limit, the temp differentials being to tiny and no way to look inside the cell ..... well it's an idea, just.
wjt, May 20 2009

       How this might be done: Heat can be indirectly imaged via brownian motion. Tiny visible particles jiggle more in warm than in cold areas. Perhaps in a cell that had taken up a large amount of very tiny, dark, inert particles, the motions of these particles in various areas of the cell could be used to gauge temperature. Moving faceted particles would sparkle at a faster or slower rate, and this might be used to help quanity motion.   

       I must say, "cellular mathmos" does not do much for me as a title. "Cellular thermal microscopy" would be better and would attract more outside attention as regards google searches. If you are into that kind of thing.   

       I initially was thinking of light microscopy to visualize these tiny particles. However maybe you could use an electron microscope or something similar to monitor movement of the particles. Ferrous particles, magnetic or not, moving within a magnetic field will generate an electrical signal that should increase as amount of movement increases. This could be tracked with an electron microscope or similar tool.
bungston, May 20 2009

       You could use quantum dots - they're the size of small protein molecules and pretty inert, and also very bright (in fluorescence). However, I think the errors in measuring temperature that way will far outweigh the minuscule temperature differences in the cell. Instead, the particles would reflect the local viscosity (which has been done).
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2009

       I don't know why this couldn't be done -- I would not be surprised if it has already.   

       I know an optical microscope can resolve mitochondria (around 30 um) and I don't think using IR would mess that up.   

       You probably just need to focus very carefully and have a very good IR detector. Most microscopes require illumination, and the optics of the microscope might need to be re-engineered to not block IR.   

       Experiment with an IR camera hooked up to a microscope at 10x (to see if the optics even work with IR0, and work your way down from there!!   

       [I can just imagine the fragility of lenses made of NaCl ... :) ]
cowtamer, May 20 2009

       // can resolve mitochondria (around 30 um)//   

       That is one mutha of a mitochondrion.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2009

       Along the same lines of thought is a Jack-O- lantern .   

       If Xthere wasX a microscope coupled with an infrared sensing array is used, would it be possible to heat an area/position inside the cell to above average? laser?   

       Hopefully the heat would follow path of least resistance, plus make a ghostly face pattern.
wjt, May 21 2009

       Can a laser, because of its accurate wave length, be used to generate heat (kinetic vibration) of a quantum dot?   

       I was thinking that if the wavelength was slightly miss-aligned with the electron states in the quantum dot, the bonds would be vibrated as the electrons tried to change state.
wjt, May 22 2009

       //"microsopy?"// Microsophy would mean 'tiny wisdom', which could apply to the early stages of artificial intelligence.
spidermother, May 26 2009

       Another objection to the title. I had to look up "mathmos". Apparently it means mathematicians, which doesn't make any sense.
notexactly, May 27 2019

       Apologies, [ notexactly] I accidentally deleted your anno. You were stating that you looked up my mathmos reference from Wikipedia.   

       I was trying for a wider, blurrier, concept capture. Mind map as much loosely relating stuff as possible. A larva lamp is quite beautiful and makes me think that it's contents, the 'mathmos' type stuff, might be a recurring mechanism throughout the scales of space-time.
wjt, May 29 2019

       No big deal; I think you were one of the people whose annos I mentioned having accidentally deleted in my idea against accidental anno deletion.   

       Larva lamp sounds interesting, perhaps worth its own idea.   

       Regarding similar phenomena appearing in other places, I saw something like that in hand soap the other week. I had a cylindrical glass soap dispenser with a little bit of opaque white soap in it, and I refilled it with transparent purple soap. Turns out the purple soap is a bit denser than the white soap, so the white soap mushroomed up through the purple in a manner reminiscent of a lava lamp or, well, certain kinds of mushroom.
notexactly, Jun 11 2019

       Ah, the art in science and the science in art.   

       A larva lava lamp might be possible if there was a bit of a slow chemical reaction in the blob component which itself has multiple components.
wjt, Jun 12 2019

       Looking at IR camera on wikipedia I found out about hyperspectral imaging, it might cover this pretty well.   

       Also, if you think of less-than-heat (bigger than heat) you think of jiggling everything from brownian motion to a mitochondial membrane (wall) vibrating in place a little.   

       So, synchronize microscope vibrations to cells to see clearer of chracterize natural jiggling motions:   

       I have read about AFM stages that can position with picometer (!) accuracy. As a new technology, causing the motionizing of these microscope stages to vibrate at various <--> and up down frequencies could reveal the simultaneous vibration direction and amount of cell structures by making the imaged thing, like a nucleus come much higher into focus, or go out of focus in a predictable way from different stage-added vibrations. This could be used to map the vibration of organelles and cytoplasmic contents all over a healthy cell and is similar to, but different than [wjt]s temperature mapping.   

       wiggle-jolt-focus stage
beanangel, May 07 2021


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