You probably know the GIF as the perfect vehicle for sharing memes and reactions. We believe the format can go further, that it has real power to capture science and explain research in short, digestible loops.
So kick off your week right with this GIF-able science. Enjoy and loop on.
You’ve always wanted to fly through the nervous system of a chicken embryo, right? No? Well, if you ever change your mind, you can make the journey in the GIF above, thanks to a new microscopy technique called mesoSPIM. It sets up a light sheet microscope (which produces 3-D images) in a new way, allowing researchers to view larger subjects such as this seven-day-old chicken embryo. Updated software also lets scientists create images much faster than before. Enjoy the ride!
Explosive Shock Block
You know how movie explosions blow heroes off their feet? That depiction is based on the pressure wave that travels in front of the blast. And though Hollywood certainly takes artistic liberties, primary blast waves can cause a range of really terrible-sounding injuries, from “blast belly” to “blast brain.”
This GIF comes from an effort to understand supersonic blast waves—and ultimately protect people from their devastating effects. To make the video, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, created an explosion. The blast wave barrelled down a foot-long section of a 12-foot shock tube at more than 900 miles per hour, slamming into two rows of barriers designed to dissipate its power. An ultra-high-speed camera showed how this destruction happened at 125,000 frames per second. The researchers think solid obstacles, cut with small notches and arrayed in a logarithmic spiral, may be able to protect miners in the event of an underground explosion.
Cancer Eats Cancer
Cancer cells are notoriously hardy, but new research finds they are even more ruthless than many scientists thought. Confronted by chemotherapy, they can turn to cannibalism to survive. Above, a breast cancer cell (green) damaged by the drug doxorubicin engulfs and digests a neighboring cancer cell (red). The scientists who made the video determined this process helps such chemotherapy-wounded cells live on, which can lead to a cancer relapse. If researchers can find a way to keep cancer from going cannibalistic, they may be able to make chemo treatments more effective.
How Ants Shoulder the Load
If you have ever spent any time looking at the ground beneath your feet, you have probably witnessed the Herculean strength of an ant—and science has shown that this insect is truly nature’s beast of burden. But we also know that much of a single ant’s ability comes from how it collaborates with its fellows. New research puts their strength in numbers on full display.
The crazy ants (yes, that is what they are actually called) in this GIF were given two jobs: first pick up an object, then navigate it around obstacles. They were required to do so with a light piece of bait and a heavy one. The ants (understandably) had a harder time getting the bigger of the two objects moving. But once they got it going, they were able to move it around blockages just as well as the lighter bait. The morale of this story? Many mandibles make (even heavier) light work.