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  • Microscopists Celebrate Cell Biology Advancements
Nov 2003
LONDON, Nov. 12 -- Scientists from around the world gathered in London last month to celebrate achievements in cell biology and to look at future techniques for live cell research, at a meeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Dutch scientist Frits Zernike. Zernike discovered the phase contrast method and invented the phase contrast microscope.

The meeting was jointly sponsored by Carl Zeiss, which built the first phase contrast microscope in 1936 and pioneered live cell applications throughout the period until 1945, and The Royal Microscopical Society. Held at the Institute of Physics in London, the meeting featured a keynote lecture by Timothy Hunt, a co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of key regulators of the cell cycle.

Heinz Gundlach of Carl Zeiss Germany also spoke at the meeting about the effort involved in translating the phase contrast principle into a working instrument. The highlight of his presentation was the debut of a DVD recording of the first film of a dividing cell from 1941.

The agenda included discussions on how Zernike made it possible to see living cells, along with new imaging techniques that are advancing live cell research. Topics included enhanced phase contrast, presented by Alexander Verkhovsky of the St. Francis Institute of Technology, Lausanne; single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, by Justin Molloy of the National Institute for Medical Research, London; and tracking intracellular molecules with a new method of photoactivation called FLAP (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching) microscopy, presented by Graham Dunn of King's College, London.

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An instrument consisting essentially of a tube 160 mm long, with an objective lens at the distant end and an eyepiece at the near end. The objective forms a real aerial image of the object in the focal plane of the eyepiece where it is observed by the eye. The overall magnifying power is equal to the linear magnification of the objective multiplied by the magnifying power of the eyepiece. The eyepiece can be replaced by a film to photograph the primary image, or a positive or negative relay...
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