Tag Archives: Eric Betzig

3rd Frontiers for Young Minds collection of stories by Nobel Laureates

Frontiers publishes peer-reviewed, open access, scientific journals and materials for children through their children’s magazine, “Frontiers for Young Minds” (see my November 18, 2013 post about the magazine’s inception) and The Nobel Collection featuring science stories for children written by Nobel laureates (see my February 22, 2022 post for the first collection and my June 9, 2023 post for the second collection.

Caption: Frontiers for Young Minds Nobel Collection Volume 3 Credit: Frontiers

Here’s news about Frontiers’ third ‘The Nobel Collection’ from a September 20, 2023 Frontiers news release on EurekAlert,

Frontiers for Young Minds, an award-winning, non-profit, open-access scientific journal for kids, has released the third volume of its Nobel Collection today. The new volume features five articles on topics from using a glowing protein found in jellyfish to understand cell function to studying the smallest units of matter. Prior to publication, the distinguished scientists worked with young reviewers aged 8-15 to ensure their articles were interesting and understandable for young readers. 

Launched in 2013, Frontiers for Young Minds inspires the next generation of scientists by making science accessible and engaging for young people. It provides reliable and up-to-date information on various topics in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). Through a unique review process, kids engage in dialogue with leading researchers worldwide, empowering the young reviewers with a better understanding not only of the science of the article, but of the scientific process and the importance of validating information. While learning about the world around them, young reviewers develop confidence, critical thinking, and communication skills. 

The Nobel Collection is a special series of articles by Nobel Laureates. This third volume of the collection is an exciting new, educational installment for children and adults alike. The first and second volumes of the collection consist of 10 articles each, covering topics from discovering life on other planets to superfluids that defy gravity.  

In this latest release, the scientists share their insights on the following topics: 

  • The Quirky Lives of Quarks: A Close Look into Matter, written by David Gross, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004.  
    Atoms are small units of matter that create everything we see. Inside atoms there are subatomic particles such as protons and neutrons, which compose the nucleus of the atom. Protons and neutrons are themselves composed of even smaller units called quarks. David Gross discovered how these quarks interact, explaining why the attraction force between them gets weaker as they get closer together and stronger as they move further apart. 
  • Molecular Flashlights that Light Up Science, written by Martin Chalfie, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008.  
    Green fluorescent protein (GPF) is a tiny glowing molecule that was originally found in glowing jellyfish. Martin Chalfie developed a way to use GFP as a marker that scientists can use to learn what is going on inside cells and organisms. Since his breakthrough, GFP was used in many different studies, helping scientists understand how cells work, how certain viruses cause diseases, and how proteins fold. 
  • The Ribosome – The Factory for Protein Production According to the Genetic Code, written by Ada Yonath, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009.  
    Proteins are small biological machines that work in our bodies as well as in the bodies of all animals, plants, viruses, and bacteria. They are produced by a protein production ‘factory’ in cells called the ribosome. Ada Yonath developed a method for studying the structure and function of ribosomes. This method could be used to study how antibiotics work and improve them.  
  • The Secrets of Secretion: Protein Transport in Cells, written by Randy Schekman, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2013.  
    Cells release substances to the blood and to other cells via a process called secretion. For a substance to be secreted, it needs to travel between different stations within the cell and then cross the outer envelope of the cell called a membrane. This travel of a substance within and outside a cell is performed by small carriers called vesicles, which are like little cars that take a passenger substance to its destination. Randy Schekman identified different stations that this ‘car’ goes through within the cell, and significantly contributed to understanding the whole pathway of this fundamental process of secretion. 
  • Seeing Beyond the Limits with Super-Resolution Microscopy, written by Eric Betzig, awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014.  
    Scientists often want to look at very small objects in order to study them. For many years it was believed that we cannot look with visible light on objects that are smaller than a fundamental property of light called its wavelength (the distance between two peaks in the light wave). Eric Betzig was able to break that limit using a method based on glowing molecules that are attached to the object scientists want to study. This paved the way for scientists to look at objects they could never see before. 

The third volume will expand with more Nobel Laureate authors later this year, providing young readers the opportunity to learn even more about important discoveries. 

Commenting on the new volume, Frontiers for Young Minds head of program Laura Henderson says: “It’s wonderful to now have three volumes of our Nobel collection and so many Nobelist authors joining us to provide kids with access to their work. We want to ensure all science enthusiasts can read Nobel Prize-winning scientific concepts. With over 1.5 million reads and downloads of the articles in volumes one and two, I can’t wait to see volume three inspire our young readers even more.” 

To find out more, watch this video. [29 secs. runtime]


Nanoscopy and a 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

An Oct. 8, 2014 news item on Nanowerk features the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry honourees,

 For a long time optical microscopy was held back by a presumed limitation: that it would never obtain a better resolution than half the wavelength of light. Helped by fluorescent molecules the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry 2014 ingeniously circumvented this limitation.

Their ground-breaking work has brought optical microscopy into the nanodimension.
In what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells. They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate; they follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos.

An Oct, 8, 2014 Royal Swedish Academy of Science press release, which originated the news item, expands on the ‘groundbreaking’ theme,

It was all but obvious that scientists should ever be able to study living cells in the tiniest molecular detail. In 1873, the microscopist Ernst Abbe stipulated a physical limit for the maximum resolution of traditional optical microscopy: it could never become better than 0.2 micrometres. Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 for having bypassed this limit. Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld.

Two separate principles are rewarded. One enables the method stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, developed by Stefan Hell in 2000. Two laser beams are utilized; one stimulates fluorescent molecules to glow, another cancels out all fluorescence except for that in a nanometre-sized volume. Scanning over the sample, nanometre for nanometre, yields an image with a resolution better than Abbe’s stipulated limit.

Eric Betzig and William Moerner, working separately, laid the foundation for the second method, single-molecule microscopy. The method relies upon the possibility to turn the fluorescence of individual molecules on and off. Scientists image the same area multiple times, letting just a few interspersed molecules glow each time. Superimposing these images yields a dense super-image resolved at the nanolevel. In 2006 Eric Betzig utilized this method for the first time.

Today, nanoscopy is used world-wide and new knowledge of greatest benefit to mankind is produced on a daily basis.

Here’s an image illustrating different microscopy resolutions including one featuring single-molecule microscopy,

The centre image shows lysosome membranes and is one of the first ones taken by Betzig using single-molecule microscopy. To the left, the same image taken using conventional microscopy. To the right, the image of the membranes has been enlarged. Note the scale division of 0.2 micrometres, equivalent to Abbe’s diffraction limit. Image: Science 313:1642–1645. [downloaded from http://www.kva.se/en/pressroom/Press-releases-2014/nobelpriset-i-kemi-2014/]

The centre image shows lysosome membranes and is one of the first ones taken by Betzig using single-molecule microscopy. To the left, the same image taken using conventional microscopy. To the right, the image of the membranes has been enlarged. Note the scale division of 0.2 micrometres, equivalent to Abbe’s diffraction limit. Image: Science 313:1642–1645. [downloaded from http://www.kva.se/en/pressroom/Press-releases-2014/nobelpriset-i-kemi-2014/]

The press release goes on to provide some biographical details about the three honourees and information about the financial size of the award,

Eric Betzig, U.S. citizen. Born 1960 in Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Ph.D. 1988 from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. Group Leader at Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, VA, USA.

Stefan W. Hell, German citizen. Born 1962 in Arad, Romania. Ph.D. 1990 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, and Division head at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.

William E. Moerner, U.S. citizen. Born 1953 in Pleasanton, CA, USA. Ph.D. 1982 from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. Harry S. Mosher Professor in Chemistry and Professor, by courtesy, of Applied Physics at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

Prize amount: SEK 8 million, to be shared equally between the Laureates.

The amount is in Swedish Krona. In USD, it is approximately $1.1M; in CAD, it is approximately $1.2M; and, in pounds sterling (British pounds), it is approximately £689,780.

Congratulations to all three gentlemen!

ETA Oct. 14, 2014: Azonano features an Oct. 14, 2014 news item from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL)  congratulating the three recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The item also features a description of the recipients’ groundbreaking work along with an update on how this pioneering work has influenced and inspired further research in the field of nanoscopy at the NPL.