Monday, June 13, 2011

Quote of the Day

"We would like to have a laser inside the body of the animal, to generate laser light directly within the animal's tissue."

Excellent. Harvard scientists have used a genetically engineered human kidney cell as a "gain medium" to amplify light waves into a laser. It's nothing compared to the 1 megajoule power of Lawrence Livermore Labs's National Ignition Facility out here in Cali, but then again we won't be the first to get laser sharks :/

" Hundreds of different gain media have been used, including various dyes and gases [and Jell-O]. But no one has used living tissue. Mostly out of curiosity, Malte Gather and Seok-Hyun Yun of Harvard University decided to investigate with a single mammalian cell.
They injected a human kidney cell with a loop of DNA that codes for an enhanced form of green fluorescent protein. Originally isolated from jellyfish, GFP glows green when exposed to blue light and has beeninvaluable as a biological beacon, tracking the path of molecules inside cells and lighting up when certain genes are expressed.
After placing the cell between two mirrors, the researchers bombarded it with pulses of blue light until it began to glow. As the green light bounced between the mirrors, certain wavelengths were preferentially amplified until they burst through the semi-transparent mirrors as laser light. Even after a few minutes of lasing, the cell was still alive and well. "

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