Gertsch Group

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland

Amazing dimensions in light imaging

Amazing dimensions in light imaging
Jurg Gertsch - Tue Sep 27, 2011 @ 04:22PM
Comments: 4

I was stunned by a recent image obtained in our fluorescent microscope staining discrete parts of the cellular surface of membranes and wondered (and calculated) how many molecules are needed to make a visible staining. the molecule I used was approximately 20 Angström (2 nm) long - the surface of the cell maybe 100 microm2 and the number of molecules was 602000000000000. Then I saw a picture taken from space facing the earth illuminated by road lighting (see image from Nasa). How many hundreds of thousands of street lights are needed to make a road visible from approx. 350 km above the earth surface - not so many as it appears. BTW, the lense of the camera is about at the same relative distance as the lense of the microscope from the cell surface (only that the NASA picture is less zoomed in).

Bild1.pngNasa image showing road illumination and in orange the India-Pakistan boarderline


Comments: 4


1. Anonymous   |   Sat Oct 01, 2011 @ 10:25AM

A lovely comparison - how long is that boarderline? I assume several hundred kilometers? And the circumference of an average cell is in the order of hundreds of micrometers - so a difference of 10 to the power of 12?

2. Hans   |   Wed May 16, 2012 @ 09:40PM

I like your comparison as it illustrates, quite impressively, how we see molecules, even if we only see parts of them. Great contribution!

3. Xu Chen   |   Sat Jan 24, 2015 @ 02:43PM

From the moon you do not see the streetlights anymore. But they are still there. With an ordinary light microscope you do not see many things, despite the fact that they are there ...

4. Margarita   |   Fri Jan 15, 2016 @ 10:01PM

I like this analogy, quite beautiful

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