COOL IMAGES: Cells Afire

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Science  10 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5459, pp. 1707
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5459.1707a

This picture of red microtubules flaring from yellow cell nuclei is an example of fluorescence microscopy, which since the 1980s has become a routine lab tool for probing cellular innards. The Web Atlas of Cell Structures offers dozens of pretty images and some how-to advice. It describes protocols for staining cells with fluorescent antibodies that stick to certain proteins, as well as the kinds of light microscopes you then shine on the fixed cells—including the confocal microscope, which gets sharper images by collecting light from only a thin slice. Students can download large image files and try processing them themselves.

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