Microscopists always want to look more closely, but up until quite recently biologists have been drastically restricted in what they can study with the light microscope. For a microscope used in traditional fashion, the laws of physics dictate that two objects need to be more than 200nm apart (i.e. about half the wavength of the illuminating light) or their images will blur together. This is fine for viewing cells – for example, a red blood cell is about 7000nm in diameter - but for many of a cell's most interesting features the so-called “diffraction barrier” does pose problems. The plasma membrane for example is about 7 to 10 nm thick, and cannot be resolved with light microscopy. These finer structures can be examined with electron microscopy, where the resolving power increases to less than a nanometre, but with this approach biologists cannot take advantage of a wide range of powerful specimen preparation techniques, most particularly the targeting of structures with fluorescent probes.
Sports and recreational activities at NCBS gained momentum recently with the opening of the sports facilities of the SCDC (Sports Cum Dining Complex). The new facilities provide a ray of moonlight to brighten the lives of students too often caught up in a vicious circle of work and worry. Every evening now sports lovers flock to the SCDC, a much welcome addition to NCBS culture. Those who used to take an evening walk or jog around the nearby GKVK campus now throng to the SCDC. The efforts of Engineering and Administration, and the construction staff themselves, have made this all possible and must be applauded.
“According to the big bang theory the universe is only 13 billion years old. ... We made some observations a year ago which we are still trying to explain but the simplest explanation seems to be that there stars that are 20 billion years old.” (Jayant Narlikar). Does the universe have a beginning? Was life on earth seeded from outer space? Dr. Jayant Narlikar visited NCBS recently and the Centre's news team was there to ask his opinions on questions that humans have pondered since time immemorial.