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Is That the Cosmos or India on Diwali? NASA's Image of Human Cell Leaves Twitter Bewildered

NASA's interactive image of a human cell has left Twitter bewildered | Image credit: Twitter

NASA's interactive image of a human cell has left Twitter bewildered | Image credit: Twitter

A Stanford University School of Medicine researcher recently shared a picture of a detailed human cell model and it is blowing up on Twitter.

Every time NASA releases an image of the magnificent cosmos, people cannot stop being in awe of the universe’s beauty for days. But if we want to see mesmerising and complex beautiful structures, one need not go much further than our planet, and the living creatures inhabiting it.

A Stanford University School of Medicine researcher recently shared a picture of a detailed human cell model. The creators of this fantastical structure are scientific and biomedical animator Evan Ingersoll in association with Harvard Medical School faculty Gael McGill. The duo is calling their creation Cellular Landscape Cross-Section Through A Eukaryotic Cell.

Mahjabin Norooji is a cancer researcher at Stanford and she called this image as “most detailed model of a human cell to date.”

The creation of this single image relied on datasets from x-ray, NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) and cryoelectron microscopy.

The picture is a riot of colours. The left side features internal segments on a cell in lateral view. Seen are Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, cell wall, and hundreds of protein structures and membrane-bound organelles. The cell structure is of a Eukaryote cell i.e. a multicellular organism which means it can correspond to the cell structure of humans, dogs, or even fungi and plants. Here is the photo:

If the structures are not enough to satiate the scientist in you, then in her caption, she has linked a page which contains more images from the project, each beautiful and artistic. The images are interactive which means you can use them kind of like Google Earth maps. Click on any of the cell images and it will enlarge.

People were quick to admire how amazing the structure looked, even if they weren’t from the field of molecular biology.

Many thought the image resembled an aerial view of a colourful city with an intricately designed architecture or even a painting or city on the night of Diwali when colourful lights would twinkle through a city.

On the new page, you can choose a mechanism from a drop-down menu (apoptosis or even Alzheimer’s pathway) and the image will go black and white, leaving only the relevant proteins/organelles in colour. Hover your mouse pointer onto the structure and its name will flash on screen!


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