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The sky in a pond

17 January 2018
Cells, like the planets, travel through orbits described by classical mechanics
Simulation of Euglena motion

It was like finding the laws that govern the movement of planets inside a pond. Because that is where Euglena gracilis lives, a unicellular organism, which has allowed a group of scientists of mathLab and of Sensing and Moving Bioinspired Artifacts laboratory (SAMBA) at SISSA, in association with the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics – OGS, to rebuild the motion in three dimensions of single cells, using a very original approach, which looks to Space.

In the research, just published on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists have reconstructed the motion of Euglena starting from images gathered under the microscope and subsequently analysed through the laws of classical mechanics, following an approach similar to that applied to the study of the motion of celestial bodies.
In addition to the important implications within the scope of biology and physics, this research opens up interesting perspectives in the field of biomimetics, a branch of science, which gets inspired by nature to invent new technological applications. In particular, the study of the motion of these organisms could be used to produce miniature robots for use in medicine.

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