Tag Archives: Harvard University

Making jellyfish out of a rat — Reverse bioengineering of muscular pumps

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We’ve all seen the magic show cliché: a white bunny hops into a hat and – voila! – magnificent doves fly out of the hat. How about we diverge into something new, like a rat turning into a jellyfish. Embrace yourselves; it is for real – well, almost.

Researchers from Harvard University and California Institute of Technology have succeeded in creating an artificial jellyfish using rat heart-muscle cells, which they termed “medusoid.” Although artificial, these medusoids not only look like real jellyfish, but also behave like one. The artificial jellyfish are able to swim freely when placed under an electric field, exhibiting the characteristic fast stroke and slow recoil of a jellyfish. The swimming behavior of the medusoids even mimics the water current created by a real jellyfish which pushes food towards its mouth. Continue reading –>

Genuine jellyfish ephyrae (babies). Photo credit: WIM VAN EGMOND, Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Science Photo Library

An artificial jellyfish. It looks and acts like a jellyfish but is a rat in origin.

 

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Filed under Animals in Science, Technology

Nanoscale emoticons made with DNA — origami vs. tiles

***This blog has moved to a new location. Visit the new site for more posts and updates! (http://www.SomethingAboutScience.com)***

Hi :-). The smiley face you see here is about 4 mm (or 0.17 of an inch) in length, depending on the font size you are using. Imagine shrinking it by 40,000 times! That is about the size of the smiley face made with synthetic DNA using nanotechnology.

DNA nanotechnology has been around for over 30 years, but the major breakthrough in the field was the development of the DNA origami in 2006. The DNA origami enabled the construction of more complex structures in about a week. The basic principle of the method is that one long, single-stranded DNA gets folded into a certain shape by about 200 short, single strands of DNA segments, or “staples.” This is possible because a single strand of DNA always pairs up with a complementary strand to form a double strand. This approach can be used to create both 2- or 3-dimensional structures. (Read more on DNA origami here.) Continue reading –>

Adapted from Rothemund and Andersen (2012) Nature.

 

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Filed under Art in Science, Technology