Revealing images

While I’m sure there must be many (well … at least a few) “real” applications for the now-ubiquitous cell-phone cameras, these devices are typically regarded as more of a toy than a serious imaging device.

Th Sanderson

While I’m sure there must be many (well … at least a few) “real” applications for the now-ubiquitous cell-phone cameras, these devices are typically regarded as more of a toy than a serious imaging device. But researchers in Berkeley, CA, have come up with a novel attachment for a standard phone camera that may help change that perception. Their device enables optical microscope images to be sent over a mobile phone network, meaning they can be shared with other interested scientists based practically anywhere (www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/324816). Such developments underscore the enduring advantages of conventional optical microscopes, which are still used more than alternative techniques in life-science microscopy. In fact, as noted by contributing editor Jeff Hecht on page 73, the quest to see inside living cells is driving development of many new microscopy techniques—such as fluorescence imaging and nonlinear—for probing cells at visible wavelengths.

Probing biological systems in the time domain presents another unique set of challenges. Some biological events occur at ultrafast speeds and imaging them without damaging the living tissues requires special cameras and lighting. Current generation high-speed cameras can capture these biological events at rates as high as one million frames per second, revealing information that was previously unobtainable. And the continuous buffering available from digital cameras eliminates the need for elaborate triggering systems (see page 77).

The need to capture and transmit images for analysis is not limited to the life sciences. Optical-imaging technologies have been brought to bear on works of art and historical artifacts for authentication or to gain insight that may aid conservation. Related efforts have also revealed hidden art—original work that was subsequently painted over, for instance (see page 85).

Such efforts produce a virtual mountain of image data and new software is continuously being developed to aid in its processing. In one example, image-matching software can automatically reveal small differences between two very similar pictures (see page 57).

Th Sanderson
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Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
stevega@pennwell.com

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