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Journeys of Discovery

Nov 2013
Karen A. Newman, Group Publisher,

Little more than 100 years ago, French biologist Jean Comandon and colleagues were making live films of cell division using time-lapse microcinematography, capturing the wonder of the process before the dyes and preservatives killed the cells. Fin, indeed. But live-cell microcinematography was the celluloid precursor to modern-day live-cell imaging. And while the microscope has several hundred years of history over video capture of dividing cells, the irrepressible urge to see more has brought about advances in both technologies, and united the two for ever-more-amazing results.

In our cover story, “Live-Cell Imaging Evolves to Find New Niches,” contributing editor Marie Freebody discusses the improvements in microscope technology and automation that are continually broadening the kinds of cells and cellular processes that can be studied. Challenges persist, however, including controlling light – keeping it from damaging samples and influencing research results. Read the entire feature beginning on page 23.

Also in this issue, Managing Editor Laura S. Marshall contributes a Q&A with experts from three companies in the adaptive optics market. Among the take-aways from “Q&A: Adaptive Optics ‘On the Rise’ ” is this quote from Christian Theriault, president and CEO of Tag Optics Inc. of Princeton, N.J.: “Unlocking crucial in situ information from a multitude of depths is where adaptive optics technologies provide a key capability that may help enable future researchers and clinicians to see phenomena they could never observe before.”

Where is the adaptive optics market for bio applications headed? Michael Feinberg, director of sales and marketing at Boston Micromachines Corp. in Boston, thinks the market will shift away from the lab-built atmosphere that has persisted for more than 10 years to a more OEM instrument-type market. James Joubert, applications scientist at Photometrics in Tucson, Ariz., predicts that adaptive optics of the future will require on-the-fly analysis of and corrections for changes in the imaging environment. Read more of these experts’ thoughts on the adaptive optics market beginning on page 30.

One Last Observation

In May 2011, I wrote about a gentleman named Frank H. Andres, who toiled in his home lab, observing organisms at work through the eyepiece of his microscope. (See “Wanted: Good Observers” at Frank contacted me following a column I wrote about puzzle-solving bees and their lessons to young students about the coolness of science ( As a “good observer” himself, Frank had some research that he felt was promising enough to pass along to some capable young minds who could further his observations.

Late last month, one of Frank’s daughters wrote to tell me that her dad had passed away in September. In her brief note, she underscored the importance he put on exploration, curiosity and observation. Frank told me in 2011 that he had been on a journey of discovery his entire life, and his story continues to inspire me. I hope it inspires you, too.

AmericasArizonaBasic ScienceBiophotonicsBoston MicromachinesBusinesscell divisionEditorialFrank H. AndresimagingJames JoubertKaren A. NewmanLaura S. Marshalllive-cell imagingMarie FreebodyMassachusettsMichael FeinbergMicroscopyNew JerseyopticsPhotometricsscientific observationTAG Opticschristian theriaultJean Comandontime-lapse microcinematographyadaptive optics market

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