Watch cells come alive

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Watch cells come alive

Every living organism depends upon cells to function normally. In our own body, it is estimated that there are 75 to 100 trillion cells. The study of these cells is called cytology which is the very foundation of the study of biology. Among the plethora of websites on cells, CELLS alive! the one-man endeavour of Jim Sullivan, hosted at http://www.cellsalive.com, stands tall.

For the past 30 years, the postings at CELLS alive! which include film and computer-enhanced images of living cells and organisms, have been of great help to students, educators and researchers. The contents at CELLS alive! are categorised under Cell Biology, Microbiology, Immunology, and Microscopy.

Don’t miss clicking on the two biocams, the Cancer Cell Cam and Bacteria Cam, under Cell Biology. These two biocams, much different from ‘live webcams’, are repeated at daily or shorter intervals in order to convey information on biological rhythms, changes from one minute to the next. These webcams allow you to gauge biological activities in ‘real time’ to comprehend the time it takes for the cancer cells and bacteria growing in a dish to double.

The 24 hours Cancer Cell Cam series begins every midnight and shows cell division in a population of cultured cancer cells. The images are updated every 10 minutes throughout the day. And, the Bacteria Cam, a 6-hour series, begins 4 times per day: midnight, 6 am, noon, and 6 pm. A new image is loaded every minute.

Links to access the two biocams have been also included in the interactive section which includes Cell Models, Mitosis, Meiosis, Cell Cycle, HowBig? Puzzles and Quizzes. The Cell Biology section features: How Big is a ... ? — from dust mites to ebola on the head of a pin; Cell Models — the structure of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells; Mitosis — interactive animation of mitotic stages; Meiosis — interactive animation; The Cell Cycle — how mitosis fits into a cell’s overall life cycle; Pumping Myocytes — these heart cells got rhythm; Apoptosis — when a cell commits suicide; Quiz on Cell Biology.

CELLS alive! also hosts a forum at http://tinyurl.com/3nb2j4g where users, especially students, either post questions or give answers to questions. The students who stand registered, at the time of writing this piece, are 639, and includes many from India.

Among the clarifications sought by students from India include these: What is the nature of interaction between two proteins asks Shanker S; Rajeev Reddy wants to know what a superbug is; What is endoplasmic reticulum asks Nilankshi; Why is blood pressure measured with cuff at heart level, asks Vivek; and Sunil Ramachandran has sought examples of macroscopic cells. Some of these have been answered. Check them out at the forum and if you can provide better answers, or simply want your questions answered, you know where to head.

In the Gallery section, there are two galleries – Cell Gallery and Crystal Galley. In the former you can view, among others, an electron micrograph scanning of the fine structure of a blood clot; a leukemia cell tearing itself apart by a process called apoptosis; and a pair of staphylococcus aureus which have gone through two cell divisions, producing a pair of tetrads.

The Crystal Gallery provides landscapes of polarization microscopy — oriented molecules such as crystalline chemicals are placed between two polarizing filters, the crystals exhibit amazing coloured landscapes or subtle patterns. A list of stock footage in the CELLS alive! library can be viewed in either HTML or PDF format at http://www.osf.co.uk/

Would you like to browse some more websites on cytology? You could look at these: Inside a Cell at http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/insideacell/; BioVisions, at http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/; Exploratorium: Traits of Life: Exhibits: Cell Explorer at http://www.exploratorium.edu/traits/cell_explorer.html; Cell Structure and Functions at http://www.tvdsb.on.ca/westmin/science/sbi3a1/cells/cells.htm.

A major portion of this website, at http://www.cellsalive.com/, is free to registered users. At present, CELLS alive! attracts four million visitors, every year.

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