“The fact that the colors in the flower have evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; that means insects can see the colors. That adds a question: does this aesthetic sense we have also exist in lower forms of life?”- Richard P. Feynman
Well, I’ve always thought of biology as a cool subject…the amazing colours of butterflies, the beauty of flowers and the intriguing beauty of glow worms! But all of this was macroscopic. At the microscopic level…it was a little…well, monochromatic!!!
Genetic manipulations are great and that we can do them is amazing…but as long as these things happened at a molecular level and we couldn’t really ‘see’ anything, things were in the dark. And then a revolution in the field happened through the discovery of Green Fluorescent protein (GFP)!
2008 – The Nobel Prize in Chemistry – jointly awarded to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien for ‘the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP!‘
And biology became cooler than ever! It slipped into some beautiful colours and was adorned with jewels that were previously not visible to the eye. We could tag proteins with these brilliant fluorescent proteins genetically, instead of the artificial organic fluorochromes. And suddenly, we could visualize processes of cells that were previously thought impossible. We could see where proteins were located within the vast cell, we could see where these proteins were made, where they were transported to. We could see new proteins being added and old ones being degraded! They also found a cool way to use these fluorescent proteins as in vivo thermometers! Scientists are a creative breed indeed (don’t nod your head side ways to disagree! :P). Scroll down for some cool pictures where fluorescent proteins have been used for visualizing some cool stuff!
A little fact and chemistry: GFP was always around…in a jellyfish called Aequorea victoria! Well, let’s just call it a jellyfish. So this jellyfish has a protein called aequorin which releases blue light when it binds to calcium and this blue light excites GFP, which then gives out green light!
“Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.” – Khalil Gibran
“Nature always wears the colours of the spirit”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Give freedom to colours and then you shall meet the rainbow everywhere!”- Mehmet Murad Ildan
Colour the world with your Hope…Cheers!
Picture Credit: Well I took them all from Google images!