Nanosurf
Nanosurf

A New Scale Can Measure the Weight of a Single Cell

Nanosurf
Nanosurf

Researchers in Europe have invented a new hypersensitive scale that can be used to measure fluctuations in living cells in real-time, Digital Trends reports. The Cytomass Monitor can measure the weight of a single cell weighing only two or three nanograms. (A nanogram is one billionth of a gram.)

Developed by researchers at ETH Zurich, the University of Basel, and University College London, the Cytomass Monitor works by monitoring the changing resonant frequency of a cantilever.

A pulsing blue laser pointed at the microscopic cantilever causes it to oscillate. When the cantilever—made sticky by collagen or a binding protein called fibronectin—picks up an individual cell, researchers can determine its weight by the way that the resonant frequency changes, which is read by an infrared laser. The device is made to be placed directly on the plate of a microscope, so the user can also see and film the cells moving.

In a new study published in the journal Nature, the researchers use the super-sensitive scale to show that a mammalian cell's mass subtly fluctuates throughout the cell cycle. On a second-to-second basis, a living cell's weight fluctuates by between 1 and 4 percent of its total weight, they found.

A Swiss technology company called Nanosurf is now working to make the Cytomass Monitor commercially available so that it can be used in a range of biological and pharmacological research. You can see the concept illustrated in the video below.

This is not, however, the most sensitive scale ever built. In 2012, researchers created a scale capable of measuring the mass of a single proton. 

[h/t Digital Trends]

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Finally! Windows Notepad Is Getting an Update for the First Time in Years
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iStock

While some of Window's core programs have evolved dramatically over the years, or disappeared all together, Notepad has remained pretty basic. But as The Verge reports, the text-editing app is about to get a little fancier: Microsoft is updating it for the first time in years.

Since it debuted in 1985, Notepad has become a popular platform for writing out code. One common complaint from programmers working in non-Windows coding language is that Notepad doesn't format line breaks properly, resulting in jumbled, messy text. Now, both Unix/Linux line endings (LF) and Macintosh line endings (CR) are supported in Notepad, making it even more accessible to developers.

For the first time, users can zoom text by holding ctrl and scrolling the mouse wheel. They can also delete the last word in their document by pressing ctrl+backspace. On top of all that, the new update comes with a wrap-around find-and-replace feature, a default status bar with line and column numbers, and improved performance when handling large files.

The arrow keys will be easier to navigate as well. You can now use the arrow keys to deselect text before moving the cursor. And if you ever want to look up a word online, Microsoft will allow you to connect directly to Bing through the app.

The new Notepad update will be made available first to Windows Insiders through Windows 10 Insider Preview, then to everyone on the forthcoming update, codenamed Redstone 5, likely later this year.

[h/t The Verge]

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New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals
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iStock

Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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