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  • Science Speeds Up, Nature Stays Slow

Apr 2016

James SchlettTo say we live in a fast-paced world no longer does the reality justice. Supercomputers can calculate hundreds of terabytes of data in a billionth of a second. Fortunes are made and lost with the click of a button. Yet, in many instances, nature has not received — or has disregarded — the memo to hurry up. Grass still grows slowly, and the life sciences have often struggled to detect and extract valuable data in a timely fashion from slow-growing bodies, such as plants and tumors.

However, as several articles in this month’s BioPhotonics illustrate, advances in technology are enabling researchers to identify such changes at early stages, and the payoffs can be a less hungry world or better treatments for cancer. In my cover story, “Drones with Multispectral Cameras Bring Efficiency to High-Throughput Plant Phenotyping,” (read article), we see how how researchers are using unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with multispectral or hyperspectral cameras to fly over fields of genetically engineered crops and identify plants with desired phenotypes, which are not always visible to the human eye or easy to assess from ground level. In “SERS Spectroscopy Solves Outstanding Problems in the Biological Sciences,” (read article), Fran Adar and Maruda Shanmugasundaram at Horiba Instruments Inc. detail how surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) shows promise for early stage cancer diagnosis.

Other feature articles in this month’s issue include:

• “Real-Time Volumetric 3D Imaging Technology,” by Krišs Osmanis and Ilmars Osmanis at LightSpace Technologies Inc. (read article).

• “Optical Tweezers Bring Major Discoveries Within Grasp,” by Vitaliy Oliynyk, Philipp Rauch and Stefan B. Kaemmer at JPK Instruments Inc. (read article).

• “First Clinical Applications on the Horizon for FLIM,” a print exclusive by contributing editor Marie Freebody (read article).

There are those who say, “The sooner, the better,” and others who say, “Slow and steady.” People in both camps should be impressed with the photonic technologies highlighted in this issue of BioPhotonics.

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