Science and Tech
You Won't Guess Which of These Strange Science Pics Was Taken in Space

Marshall Lemon | 28 Nov 2014 17:00
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virus shell

As you may have picked up on from previous close-up shots we've covered, cameras can't just view things at the microscopic level by increasing the zoom. In some cases, you have to piece together multiple images before you have an idea of what things look like beyond what human eyes can see.

In the case of this virus (or more specifically, the protein shell of a Ps V-F penicillin fungus-attacking virus), that meant the only way we can see it at all is through years of piecing together hundreds of x-ray photos. What we ended up with was the first high-resolution shot of five million atoms making up its protective shell. While this particular virus can't infect humans, it's very similar to those that can, which means this image helps immensely for developing future medical treatments like gene therapy and disease control.

As for those yellow and red ribbons, those are highlights intended to show how proteins connect to for the shell's building blocks. The shell is basically a defense mechanism that protects the genetic payload before it infects a target.

It's strange to imagine how many viruses affected us for thousands of years, yet it's only recently that we started finding clear pictures of what they look like.

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