News / Science & Technology

3D Images from Inside Flying Insect Captured

Blow fly (Phaenicia sericata); Courtesy: Cleveland Museum of Natural HistoryBlow fly (Phaenicia sericata); Courtesy: Cleveland Museum of Natural History
x
Blow fly (Phaenicia sericata); Courtesy: Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Blow fly (Phaenicia sericata); Courtesy: Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Rosanne Skirble
A ground-breaking new scanning technique has allowed scientists to film the insides of a live, flying insect, capturing the first-ever high-speed 3D images of the flight muscles of flies.  

Researchers from Oxford University, Imperial College and the Paul Scherrer Institute used a particle accelerator to capture the images, which could one day lead to the development of micro medical devices.

The scientists developed the technique in order to study the blowfly’s complicated joint system.

"The insect is very fast and very small, with wings that beat 150 times a second," said Oxford University professor Graham Taylor, a member of the research team. "Each one of those wing beats is controlled by some tiny muscles, some of which are as thin as a human hair. So this is really an enormous technical challenge to understand this, and a particularly challenging target for understanding biological systems.”  

Watch related video:
 
Groundbreaking Technique Captures 3D Images From Inside Flying Insecti
X
VOA News
March 25, 2014 8:11 PM
A ground-breaking new scanning technique has allowed scientists to film the insides of a live, flying insect, capturing the first-ever high-speed 3D images of the flight muscles of flies.
Oxford University professor Graham Taylor talks about the 3D images captured by a particle accelerator.

Writing in PLOS Biology, Taylor says he and his colleagues detail the fly’s mechanics, particularly its steering muscles, that make up just 3 percent of its total flight muscles yet control the output of the much larger power muscles.

“And so the flies overcome this problem by way of a very complex system which is all based inside the fly. The problem with looking inside something is that visible light doesn’t penetrate into it. And, so what we need to use is x-rays, just as you would use to look at a bone fracture.”  

But because the fly's wings beat so rapidly, the team turned to very fast imaging, which began, Taylor says, in a particle accelerator called a cyclotron.

"And we put the flies into a powerful beam of x-rays and we spin them around very rapidly. As the flies are spinning around you are able to capture radiographs from different viewing angles and by putting those together, as it's beating its wings, you can reconstruct in three dimensions how the flight motor looks at all of the different stages of the wing beat.”

Taylor says they saw in vivid detail, the fly's mechanics.

“The power muscles, rather than driving the wings directly, what they do is actually vibrate up and down the body, and those vibrations are communicated through a complicated hinge into the wings themselves. What the muscles that control the wing beat are doing, and this is what we’ve been looking at, is to just tweak the output at the wing hinge to which they are attached directly, and thereby change the shape of the wing beat that results.”

That hinge action, Taylor says, compares to what happens to your calf muscles when you walk down a steep hill. 

"That pull in your calf muscles is because they’re taking up the energy that you are gaining, the kinetic energy as you descend down the slope. The fly is doing something very similar, absorbing that energy and diverting it into a different muscle.”

Taylor expects the technique devised for these observations will be used to track other small living organisms while also making its way into new micro-medical devices.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid