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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.