Biology labs use a new chemical called Scale to turn specimens transparent, so they can look into them. The result makes a mouse embryo (pictured) look like a Gummi bear.
Discovered last year by researchers at Japan’s Riken Brain Science Institute, Scale is made from compounds commonly found in the biology lab, like urea and the detergent Triton X. Scale’s low cost means it can be used much more widely than previously developed sample-clearing agents, and it allows scientists to see deeper into tissue than ever before. The discovery enabled the Riken team to produce some of the most detailed maps of brain neurons ever published.
An article at DISCOVER magazine looks at the physics of light and explains how transparent molecules are different from opaque molecules. Which leaves me to wonder how scientists can see what they are looking for if it all turns transparent -and could making a specimen transparent change it so much that what you find is rendered meaningless? Link -via Not Exactly Rocket Science
(Image credit: Riken)