"Auntie Em, Auntie Em!"

Image BS5552 (Nebraska Supercell)

Image BS5586 (Nebraska Twilight Supercell)

Image BS5591 (Truck Stop and Twilight Supercell)

Image BU0542 (Nebraska Tornado)

The U.S. has the great number and most violent tornadoes of any country in the world. This is mostly due to the unique geography of the continent and the size of the country. North America is a large continent whose north-south borders encompass the colder air of the Arctic and warmer tropical air of the Gulf. There are no major east-west mountain range to block air flow between these two areas. The portion of the U.S. where these competing air masses meet and many tornadoes are formed is known as Tornado Alley. Generally, the month with the most tornadoes is May followed by June, April and July. There is no defined “tornado season” as they can and do occur anywhere at any time of year if favorable conditions develop. There have been major tornado outbreaks in every month of the year.

© Mike Hollingshead / Science Source

Stupid Alarm Clock!

Image SB9916 (Fetal, 3-D Ultrasound)

Three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound scan of the face of a human fetus. The image was produced by a third generation 3-D ultrasound scanner called Voluson 730. 3-D scanning enables physiological disorders such as harelip and spina bifida to be diagnosed before birth. Once detected, it may be possible to perform corrective surgery while the fetus is still in the uterus. Ultrasound is a diagnostic technique which sends high-frequency sound waves into the body via a transducer. 

© GE Medical Systems / ScienceSource.com

(via sciencesourceimages)

Hold Me, Kiss Me, Shock Me!

Image SD4595 (Kirlian photograph of human lips)

Kirlian Photography. It is named after Semyon Kirlian. In 1939 he accidentally discovered that if an object is place on a photographic plate and then connected to a high-voltage source, an image is produced on that photographic plate.The technique (also known as electro-photography, high voltage photography, radiation field photography or corona discharge) obtains a photographic image due to the high-energy interactions between the subject & an applied electric field. No external light source is used in Kirlian photography. Light emitted as photons from the electrical interaction causes the image to appear on the film. A controversial medical application of the technique involves correlating the physical & mental well- being of a subject with the image variation arising from differences in sweat rate & sweat composition on the skin surface.

Buy prints or postcards of Kirlian Photography 

© G. Hadjo / Science Source

It’s A “White Matter” Matter

Image BT6664 (Diffusion Tractography of a Normal Brain)

This digitally enhanced axial (cross sectional) image was obtained from a special MRI sequence called Diffusion Tractography (DTI Scan for short). This technique allows us to map out the directionality of white matter fiber tracts in the brain by exploiting the preferential movement of water (protons) parallel to the direction of these white matter tracts (called anisotropic diffusion). Color coding by conventional uses red for right to left, green for anterior to posterior and blue for superior to inferior directions of the tracts. This technique can be used to study the effects of white matter diseases (like Multiple Sclerosis & Alzheimer’s Disease) on the fiber tracts and can also aid the neurosurgeon for preoperative planning by showing where certain important tracts are located in the area of surgery.

© Living Art Enterprises / Science Source

Our image SB4436 (Ebola Virus) is featured in the following article from NPR:

Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year

by Richard Harris/NPR

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is terrifying because there’s no drug to treat this often fatal disease. But the disease is so rare, there’s no incentive for big pharmaceutical companies to develop a treatment.

Even so, some small companies, given government incentives, are stepping into that breach. The result: More than half a dozen ideas are being pursued actively.

And these are boon days for drugs that can treat viruses. Think of treatments for AIDS and Hepatitis C.

Potential treatments for Ebola pursue many strategies. These include conventional drugs, custom-built antibodies, and vaccines that are designed not simply to prevent the spread of a disease, but to treat it in people who are in the early stages of infection.

Each idea has shown some promise in animals. But nothing has yet passed critical human testing, so there’s nothing ready to be tried during the current outbreak.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is hopeful about this multipronged approach, but says, “I think it’s really too early to make a prediction about what is the more or less promising one among them.”

One challenge is that there are several different species and strains of Ebola-like viruses, so there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution.

But one experimental drug could conceivably fit that bill. It’s called BCX4430. Travis Warren at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases lab in Frederick, Md., has been working on this antiviral drug.

"It worked great against both Ebola virus and [the closely related] Marburg virus" when tested in mice, he says. It also protected guinea pigs from these viruses and yellow fever.

Read the entire article

A Persistent Parasite (Who Is Not A Relative) 

Image BQ7420 (LM of Trichinella in Muscle)

Light micrograph of muscle with encysted Trichinella spiralis roundworms, a nematode parasite responsible for the disease trichinosis. These parasites infect mammals, including humans, pigs, dogs and rats. Infection follows the consumption of raw or undercooked meat which contains the cysts of the T. spiralis larvae. These mature into the adult form in the intestine. The adults live for about 6-8 weeks, during which time the females release large numbers of larvae which penetrate the wall of the intestine. From here they migrate around the body, causing fever and pains and forming cysts in the muscles. 

Declines in the U.S. of Trichinosis are largely associated with changes implemented by the U.S. pork industry. The U.S. Congress passed the Federal Swine Health Protection Act restricting the use of uncooked garbage as feed stock for pigs. The USDA has guidelines for specific cooking temperatures and times, freezing temperatures and times, and curing methods for processed pork products to control post-harvest human exposure to Trichinella. Pork products meeting these guidelines are designated certified pork.

© Science Source 

Did You Remember To Wash Behind Your Leaves?  

Images BE9287 and BE9294 (SEM of E. Coli Bacteria on Lettuce)

Escherichia coli bacteria on a lettuce leaf congregate at the stomata (respiration openings in the leaves) Their presence may constitute a health hazard and cause severe food poisoning, particularly if the bacteria are toxigenic. They may get onto the vegetables if the water used for irrigation is contaminated with fecal material. Although thorough washing is recommended, electron microscopy shows that the bacteria enter the leaves through the stomata and would resist being removed. Similar bacterial contamination was also found with spinach and green onions.

As we strive to eat a more healthy diet we’re finding that even our fresh fruits & vegetables are exposing us to the risks we’d come to expect from meat and fish. In the U.S. alone there have been recent major outbreaks of E. Coli contamination involving produce. Robert Tauxe from the CDC says washing your fruits and vegetable may not be enough. “We recommend washing produce in general, even if you plan to peel it but it’s tough to get bacteria off of greens.” “Many of the recurrent outbreaks have come from leafy greens, especially lettuce, sprouts, and unpasteurized juices and cider.” The CDC urges folks to thoroughly wash their produce and cook it whenever possible.

© Scimat / Science Source

They’re Microbial Condominiums

Image FE0156 (Stromatolites at twilight, Western Australia)

Image FE0160 (Stromatolites and moon, Western Australia)

Image FE0157 (Stromatolites at dawn, Western Australia)

Stromatolites. These are mineralized microbial communities, formed from blue-green algae (also called cyanobacteria). Over the last 4000 years, algae growing in this area have trapped detritus and sediment, forming large, living rafts known as microbial mats. The secretion of calcium carbonate by the algae has caused the mats to mineralize, forming the rock-like structures seen here. The stromatolites are known as living fossils, because the process of mat formation and mineralization continues today. They are a major constituent of the fossil record for about the first 3.5 billion years of life on earth. Modern stromatolites are mostly found in hypersaline lakes and marine lagoons where extreme conditions due to high saline levels exclude animal grazing. One such location is Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, Shark Bay in Western Australia where excellent specimens are observed today.

© Frans Lanting / MINT Images / Science Source

Carbon Nanotechnology

Image SB5148 (Buckyballs in a Carbon Nanotube)

Computer model of Buckminsterfullerene (C60) balls inside a carbon nanotube. The colored peaks show electron waves. The nanotube is a cylinder of carbon atoms less than a billionth of the width of a human hair. Buckminsterfullerenes (or buckyballs) are spherical groups of 60 carbon atoms. A nanotube stuffed with buckyballs (a peapod) is a good conductor of heat and electricity. Altering the number of buckyballs in the tube alters the conductive properties of the nanotube. Peapods could be designed that could be used to build electrical components on a molecular scale. A Buckminsterfullerene is the most common naturally occurring fullerene molecule. This extremely stable form of pure carbon, consists of interconnected pentagons and hexagons and is believed to be a major constituent of soot. The name is a reference to American architect, Buckminster Fuller, as a C60 resembles his trademark geodesic domes.

© David Luzzi, Univ. of Pennsylvania / ScienceSource.com

(via sciencesourceimages)

A Warming Alaska

Image JA0311 (Satellite Image of Alaska)  

While much of the continental United States endured several cold snaps in January 2014, record-breaking warmth gripped Alaska. Spring-like conditions set rivers rising and avalanches tumbling. A persistent ridge of high pressure off the Pacific Coast fueled the warm spell, shunting warm air and rainstorms to Alaska instead of California, where they normally end up. The last half of January was one of the warmest winter periods in Alaska’s history, with temperatures as much as 40°F (22°C) above normal on some days in the central and western portions of the state. The all-time warmest January temperature ever observed in Alaska was tied on January 27 when the temperature peaked at 62°F (16.7°C) at Port Alsworth. Numerous other locations set January records. The combination of heat and rain has caused Alaska’s rivers to swell and brighten with sediment, creating satellite views reminiscent of spring and summer runoff. On January 25, 2014, the Aqua satellite collected this image of sediment flowing into the Gulf of Alaska from numerous rivers along the state’s southeastern coast.

© NASA Earth Observatory / Science Source

Tawny Tactical Tentacles.

Images SS0675, SS0674 & SQ8037 (Lion’s Mane Jellyfish)

Images of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata). These are the largest known species of jellyfish. They can reach over 2 meters across with tentacles of around 30 meters long, containing millions of nematocysts (stinging cells). They prefer colder water and usually range from Arctic waters to the Northern Atlantic and Northern Pacific coasts. Predators of the Lion’s Mane include seabirds, larger fish such as ocean sunfish and sea turtles. The Leatherback sea turtle feeds almost exclusively on them during the summer season around Eastern Canada. The jellyfish themselves feed mostly on plankton, small fish, ctenophores, and moon jellies. Under normal circumstances, and in healthy individuals, their stings are not known to be fatal. Most encounters simply result in temporary pain and localized red marks on the skin. Common remedies include: vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, and meat tenderizer.

Buy prints or greeting cards of the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish!    

©  Alexander Semenov / Science Source

Our image SR4586 (Lung Cancer, artwork) is featured in the following article from NPR:

Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer

by Richard Harris/NPR

One of these days, there could well be a simple blood test that can help diagnose and track cancers. We aren’t there yet, but a burst of research in this area shows we are getting a lot closer.

In the latest of these studies, scientists have used blood samples to identify people with lung cancer.

At the Stanford School of Medicine, Dr. Maximilian Diehn spends some of his time as a radiation oncologist treating patients with cancer, and some of his time delving into the world of DNA. In particular, he’s been working on ways to detect DNA that has been shed from a tumor and ends up in a patient’s blood.

"The problem has been that there’s a very small amount of the DNA there, usually, so it’s very hard to detect," Diehn says.

But new technologies allow him to find tiny amounts of DNA and scan large parts of it to look for mutations that come from tumors. And that opens up all sorts of possibilities.

"The initial impetus was having something I could use in my own patients … as a blood test that would let us both detect the presence of cancer as well as monitor how a patient’s cancer responds to various treatments," he says.

Right now, doctors often just wait and hope. And it can take months or even years to see whether a cancer treatment has worked.

But Diehn and his colleagues say they’ve developed an exquisitely sensitive DNA test that can tell them right away whether there is tumor left in a patient.

"If there is cancer DNA in the body left, that suggests there are still cancer cells left, so that patient is probably not cured," he says, "whereas if the cancer DNA is gone, that suggests the patient is likely to be cured."

Read the entire article

Anyone Up for Pancakes & Syrup?

Image BV4720 (Fluid coiling effect)

Image BV4724 (Fluid coiling effect)

Image BV4726 (Fluid coiling effect)

Liquid Rope Coiling. In these images, high viscosity corn syrup is poured out of a 6 mm hole. These types of liquids will naturally start to coil when they hit a surface. This rope coil effect is often seen when pouring syrup on food. Honey, glue, oil and liquid chocolate are among the other viscous fluids that behave this way. The frequency of coiling depends on the height from which the stream is falling, being more frequent as the fall increases. As an alternative to coiling you may see the fluid fold back and forth in a ribbon-like pattern or wrap around in some other pattern.This image was taken with a high speed flash at 1/40,000th of a second at at a magnification of 2x.

Buy prints or greeting cards of the Fluid Coiling Effect

© Ted Kinsman / Science Source

Crowded and Smelly…like a ride in the Subway 

Image BU1650 (Fecal Bacteria, SEM) Color enhanced scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of different bacteria from a human fecal sample. The various types of bacteria have been colored differently for better differentiation. The intestine of humans is a complex and dynamic bacterial ecosystem that establishes itself within the first years of life. The population density of the intestine is initially low and increases steadily with increasing age. In a healthy middle-aged adult the ecosystem is mainly anaerobic bacteria, with a total number of 10-100 trillion. The habitat of a human intestinal gut contains at least 500 to 1,000 different species. Approximately 1/3 of the solid matter in feces consists of dead bacteria. Scanning Electron Microscope, magnification 5,000x (at 10cm wide image size) 

© Eye of Science / Science Source

Our image BY6383 (Hepatitis C Virus) is featured in the following article from NPR:

FDA Expected To Approve New, Gentler Cure For Hepatitis C

By Richard Knox/NPR

The Food and Drug Administration is expected any day now to approve the first in a new class of drugs that can cure the leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer.

The disease is hepatitis C, a slow-moving but deadly virus that infects more than 3 million Americans. The new treatment is a once-a-day pill that can cure at least 85 percent of victims without the need for injections of interferon, an immune stimulant that causes severe side effects.

The advent of interferon-free treatments for hepatitis C is an advance that’s “about as hot as I’ve ever seen,” says Dr. David Thomas, a liver specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

He says the new drugs are almost like curing lung cancer with only three months of once-a-day pills.

Read the full article

(via sciencesourceimages)