Thursday, May 29, 2014

"When is the STORM coming?"

While thinking about my post yesterday on the software that I depend on, I decided that I want to tell a short story that illustrates a trend I've been noticing with how some people are starting to view the role of technology in research.    


I use a substantial amount of microscopy in my research, but most of it is fairly "low-tech" in today's world.  I mainly use wide-field or laser-scanning confocal to do live-cell fluorescence imaging of various indicator dyes for things like calcium, pH, or nitric oxide, which I consider as much of an art as a science.  You need to now how to keep the cells happy and healthy while you are imaging them (every kind of cell is different), and know how to troubleshoot, which comes from experience.  The important point for this story, though, is that wide-field and confocal microscopes have been around for years and years.  This technology are nothing new, but they can still be very useful and very expensive.  

However, their cost pales in comparison to the costs of some of the newer "super resolution" microscopes that use more fancy optical or computer-based methods to increase resolution.  Resolution in microscopy is the smallest distance between two points at which they can be distinguished from each other.  It is basically the finest level at which you can see detail in an object, be it a cell, microchip, etc. If two points are below the microscope's resolution, they will blur together and look like one.  Increasing resolution can let you see finer details of, for example, a cell's structural components, called the "cytoskeleton."  Obviously this can be very useful for some applications, particularly in biology where you are looking at parts of cells that are very small.        

One of these fancy super resolution microscopes is the Nikon N-STORM, one of which was ordered last year by a lab in my building and finally installed.  I'm sure it is a fine instrument (I really like Nikon microscopes), but I haven't tried it out yet.  However, people have known it has been coming for quite a while, and a few have been asking me over the past several months, "When is the STORM coming?"  

I just tell them that I have nothing to do with it and they have to talk with the lab that actually bought it.  They ask me this question because over the past few years I have become the point person/caretaker for a confocal microscope on my floor, and as a consequence I end up helping a lot of people out with their imaging.  As I've said, I have done a lot of live-cell imaging and I've also done my share of immunofluorescence (labeling proteins with fluorescently-tagged antibodies as a way to see them), so I'm OK with this role.  Sometimes it's fun, and I usually learn something from trying to help someone get their experiments to work.  

However, what I've noticed lately is that a few of the people who routinely ask me to look at their immuno-staining experiments have changed their attitudes a bit.  When I tell them that their staining, on our low-tech confocal, looks mostly like background (i.e., crap) and that whatever they did clearly did not work, instead of asking what they can do to try to make it work, they will say, "Well, I'll just wait to try it on the STORM."  

Well, ladies and gentlemen, crap viewed under a microscope is still crap.  Crap under a super-resolution microscope is super-resolution crap.  I'm sure the N-STORM can make immunofluorescence look really awesome, but it is not going to make something out of nothing.  Case-in-point, when one of these people that I was helping tried to take his actin/phalloidin staining (that clearly wasn't working for him) and looked at it on the STORM, it still looked like crap.        

My analogy is this: If I stand in front of a wall with the $30 Bushnell binoculars that I bought as a ten year old kid and still have, I will see the wall and nothing beyond it.  If I stand in front of the same wall with a $2000 pair of Leica binoculars, I still won't see beyond the wall.  I need to actually find (or make) a window in order to see beyond the wall, and only then will the Leica binoculars blow away my cheap pair of Bushnells.  Until then, I'll just be looking at a wall.          

Sometimes we think that technology can do everything, but technology can't make something from nothing.  It can only help us along.  You still need to know the art of how to use the technology as well as how to get to the point where the technology can help.  We need to not let over-faith in technology result in laziness.  Otherwise, we're just like a bunch of alchemists waiting for some fancy piece of equipment to turn lead into gold.    

26 comments:

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  17. MY HEALTH IS RESTORE
    i am so happy to share this testimony with the world because generally there are so many doubts about the cure of hpv and cancer This is real take it serious, i am so happy that today i can give this testimony to the world and also help in saving life of people who has been condemned for death just as i was ,who will believe that herbs can cure hpv and cancer completely from the body, i never believe that this will work, i have spend a lot of money getting drugs from the hospital to keep me healthy, it got to a time that all i was waiting for is death to come because i was broke and i already have strong outbreaks from the hpv, one day i was going through the internet asking questions online just to know more about the latest development in the medical sector to see if there is still hope then i stumbled on a post about about this great man called Dr. Ehiagwina through a publicly made a testimony on how she was also cured of ALS by this herbal doctor who is well known for his strong ancient herbal practice at first i doubted both the woman and the doctor just as so many that see's this post would doubt because medically it has been proven impossible but later i decided to give him a try so i emailed him I did not believe him that much, I just wanted to give him a try, he replied my mail and Needed some Information about me, then I sent them to him, he prepare herbal medicine and sent it through Courier Service for delivery, he gave my details to the Courier Office. they told me that 3-5 days I will receive the package and after receiving it, i took the medicine as prescribed by him at the end of 13days that the medicine lasted, he told me to go to the hospital for a test, and i went, surprisingly after the test the doctor confirm me hpv negative and cancer disappear i thought it was a joke, i went to other hospitals and was also negative the doctors were speechless and i said it was a miracle, thank you sir for saving my life even if you cannot see this post i shall never stop testifying the impact you made in my life by restoring back my life when i was being stigmatized and even avoided by family and friends , I promise I will always testify of your good works. Dr. Ehiagwina contact: ehiagwinaherbalhome@gmail.com OR call +2348162084504 you can also add him on whatsapp.

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  18. Am here to appreciate Dr Aba for using his herbal medicine to cure my Herpes virus. since 3 years now I have been living with this virus and it has been giving me challenges, I was so perplexed cause i have been taking several drugs to be cured but all of my effort was in vain,one morning i was browsing through the internet then i saw several testimonies about Dr. Aba curing people from Herpes virus and immediately i contacted Dr. Aba on his email: dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com, i told him about my troubles and he told me that i must be cured, gave me some instructions and which i rightly followed. so he prepared a herbal medicine for me and sent it to me which i used for 2 weeks and everything was like a dream to me and my Herpes virus was totally gone, why don't you contact him today and be free from your diseases because he is very good and honest Doctor. contact him via email; dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsApp him on +2348107155060

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello everybody,
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    ReplyDelete
  20. All these post about HERBAL MEDICINE,are scarms and fake
    trying to collect money all in the name of HERPES cure and when you contact
    them, they will be asking for your name, pictures, country, phone number,
    occupation and when you have given them all the information, they will be
    asking for money. my name is jame mary,from Palm coast Florida U.S.A,
    a woman of 56years I was once
    suffering from herpes for good 3years and i spent a
    lot of money going from one herbal doctor to another but they all scam and
    take my money away until i told my friend the problems am facing in life he
    quickly introduce me to this powerful herbal man called
    Dr.ESEZOBOR who cured me from Herpes with his herbal medication , after
    Doctor ESEZOBOR has finished preparing the herbal medicine, he asked me to
    send him my residential address, so that he will send the herbal medicine
    to me via D.H.L so i did. 2days later, i received the herbal medicine and i
    had to follow the instructions he gave to me on how i will apply it. After
    using if for a week and few days and I noticed that all the symptoms, pain,
    itch and blisters are gone. 2weeks
    later i went to hospital for test and according to the test done by the
    Medical doctor called Marly it stated that i was herpes negative.
    So viewers be wise and beware of fake people and fake herbal
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    will drop the email of this powerful herbal doctor just in case you
    want to contact him for help,EMAIL ON :DRESEZOBORHERBALHOME@GMAIL.COM
    Dr ESEZOBOR CAN AS WELL CURE THE FOLLOWING DISEASE:-
    1. HERPES
    2. PENIS ENLARGEMENT
    3. GONORRHEA
    4. HIV/AIDS
    5. LOW SPERM COUNT
    6. MENOPAUSE DISEASE
    7. EPILEPSY
    8. ASEPSIS
    9. CANCER
    10. ANXIETY DEPRESSION
    11. PREGNANCY PROBLEM
    12. SHORT SIGHTEDNESS PROBLEM
    13.YOU NEED YOUR WIFE OR HUSBAND BACRK
    14. PTSD
    15 ADHD

    ReplyDelete
  21. Am here to appreciate Dr Aba for using his herbal medicine to cure my Herpes virus. since 3 years now I have been living with this virus and it has been giving me challenges, I was so perplexed cause i have been taking several drugs to be cured but all of my effort was in vain,one morning i was browsing through the internet then i saw several testimonies about Dr. Aba curing people from Herpes virus and immediately i contacted Dr. Aba on his email: dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com, i told him about my troubles and he told me that i must be cured, gave me some instructions and which i rightly followed. so he prepared a herbal medicine for me and sent it to me which i used for 2 weeks and everything was like a dream to me and my Herpes virus was totally gone, why don't you contact him today and be free from your diseases because he is very good and honest Doctor. contact him via email; dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com or whatsApp him on +2348107155060

    ReplyDelete
  22. I still don’t know the right words to express my gratitude to the Great Dr. EMUA. After been diagnosed of HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS in 2014, i was given so many health prescription and advice with no improvement, I totally lost hope, until i found testimonies of Great Dr. EMUA in an online research and on Facebook, Like anybody would be, I was very skeptical about contacting him, but i later did and he opened up to me and told me what was involved and he started the remedies for my health. Thank God, i was cured from herpes by the herbal medication I received from him. I never thought that herpes can be cured, from the bottom of my heart I'm truly grateful,i pray you have long life so you can help many more people on earth with your herbal medical support, You can Email him via his email dremuahelphome@outlook.com or dremuahelphome@gmail.com for easy and fast communication you can also call or add him on whats-app with this number +2347063628174, one thing i love most about DR EMUA is honestly, and he is very polite with his customers, everything he told me was what he did, and his herbal medicine are very affordable.

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