The biggest next-gen video games take gigabytes of code and renders it as a fluid experience. Scientists can do the same with the code of life, but they need some serious computing power.
What you see below is a fruit fly larvae taking shape, imaged by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre of the Imperial College London. Each colored dot is a cell’s nucleus and the wispy tails behind them are the movements of each cell over the previous five minutes. It’s a developmental dance that takes terabytes to translate:
Using powerful imaging techniques, we’ve been able to track the movements of developing cells for a while now, but it’s hard to do anything with all that data. Only recently have we developed the computerized tools and algorithms that allow us to turn terabytes of images into moving, usable visualizations like this.
And we can now track some pretty complicated beginnings. Check out this amazing view of all 16,000 cells of a zebrafish embryo over 18 hours:
Not only do images like these let us see how organs and structures form in various animals, they let us see exactly what is going wrong when something isn’t forming correctly. We learn from these rainbows of life.
You can watch the full, slightly longer videos of the development tracking below: