Cell Zoomer reveals hidden world of cells

Cell Zoomer reveals hidden world of cells

March 2012 - As of March 16th, museum visitors can explore the hidden world of cells at Naturalis. A new exhibit called the Cell Zoomer will be placed in the hall Research in Progress. The exhibit consists of an enormous touch screen that allows visitors to zoom in on the tiny body of a zebra fish. The animal was mapped microscopically by the Electron Microscopy Section of Leiden University Medical Centre. This innovative visualisation technology allows scientists to study a complete animal at the cellular level for the first time.

Cell Zoomer reveals hidden world of cells

By playing with the touch screen, visitors explore a landscape that most of them have never seen before: life at the cellular level. Every cell has a function of its own and looks differently. In the eye for example, you can find cells that are sensitive to light and look like fingerprints. In a muscle you discover cells with typical stripes and in the intestines and blood vessels you find other types of cells. But you can go smaller; even the protein factories of cells (ribosomes) are visible and you may encounter bacteria. Several types of cells that visitors may encounter while exploring are very similar to cells in humans – or any other animal. At the micro-level, we are all alike.

Enormous photo
Cell Zoomer reveals hidden world of cells

From head to tail, over 30,000 microscopic images were taken of a 1.5 millimetre long zebra fish embryo. Together they form a large photo that allows you to zoom in on cells up to 500,000 times. If you would print this photo at the highest zoom level, it would be 800 x 400 metres (almost twice the size of the Malieveld). The zebra fish is a popular object of study for biologists. The complete genome of this fish has been mapped, which makes it an important model for molecular genetics and cell research.

Collaboration
Cell Zoomer reveals hidden world of cells

The project is a special collaboration between NCB Naturalis and other partners at the Leiden Bio Science Park. The enormous photo of the zebra fish embryo was made and financed by the Electron Microscopy Section of Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC). The Cell Zoomer (hardware and museum development) was created due to a financial contribution of Cyttron II (LSH framework FES0908).

More information

More information and the Dutch press release can be found on the website of NCB Naturalis: http://www.naturalis.nl/nl/over-ons/pers/persberichten/2012/de-cel-zoome...

28/11/2014