Agriculture
Earth-Friendly Fabrics
Silk’s superpowers
Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Amphibians
Frogs and Toads
Salamanders and Newts
Toads
Animals
Fishy Sounds
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Awake at Night
Behavior
Swine flu goes global
The Smell of Trust
Making light of sleep
Birds
Cassowaries
Pelicans
A Meal Plan for Birds
Chemistry and Materials
Graphene's superstrength
Lighting goes digital
Makeup Science
Computers
New twists for phantom limbs
Getting in Touch with Touch
Troubles with Hubble
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dino Babies
Dino-Dining Dinosaurs
A Dino King's Ancestor
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Challenging the Forces of Nature
Farms sprout in cities
Flower family knows its roots
Environment
A Change in Time
Lessons from a Lonely Tortoise
A Vulture's Hidden Enemy
Finding the Past
A Plankhouse Past
A Long Haul
Unearthing Ancient Astronomy
Fish
Seahorses
Electric Catfish
Freshwater Fish
Food and Nutrition
Turning to Sweets, Fats to Calm the Brain
Yummy bugs
Making good, brown fat
GSAT English Rules
Whoever vs. Whomever
Who vs. Whom
Subject and Verb Agreement
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
March 21-22, 2013: Over 43,000 students will take the GSAT Exam
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Exam Preparation
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Mathematics
Deep-space dancers
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Losing with Heads or Tails
Human Body
Germ Zapper
Don't Eat That Sandwich!
Cell Phones and Possible Health Hazards
Invertebrates
Cockroaches
Sponges
Bees
Mammals
Gray Whale
Wombats
Numbats
Parents
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Physics
IceCube Science
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Gaining a Swift Lift
Plants
Bright Blooms That Glow
A Change in Leaf Color
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
Reptiles
Rattlesnakes
Alligators
Komodo Dragons
Space and Astronomy
Black Holes That Burp
Return to Space
Sounds of Titan
Technology and Engineering
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
Supersuits for Superheroes
Slip Sliming Away
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
What is a Noun
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
Middle school science adventures
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
The solar system's biggest junkyard
A Dire Shortage of Water
Add your Article

Algae Motors

Now, scientists at Harvard University have found that even tiny algae can be used to do work. Made of just one cell, certain types of algae can drag little objects around, the researchers say. If this skill can be harnessed, algae may someday power tiny machines.

Algae and other single-celled organisms move with the help of motor-like structures inside their cells. But removing the motors from cells to use them in micromachinery is tough to do. The Harvard scientists, instead, used the whole cells to do work.

First, they created a special molecule with two sticky ends. One end sticks to an algal cell’s body and the other end sticks to plastic. They coated a bunch of tiny plastic beads with this substance.

Next, the researchers put a pile of coated beads in the middle of a track that had been cut into a glass slide. They put a few algae on one end of the track, and they shined a dim light on the other end. Algae are attracted to light, so they swam toward it.

Once the algae got to the middle of the track, they ran into the sticky beads. Each cell picked up one or two of the plastic objects as it kept moving toward the light. Each cell could haul up to its own weight in plastic without slowing down much at all. Some swam as far as 20 centimeters (about 8 inches). That’s 20,000 times the length of their bodies!

Beating its twin flagella, this algal cell lugs a plastic bead through water.

Beating its twin flagella, this algal cell lugs a plastic bead through water.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

To separate the beads from the algae, the researchers shined ultraviolet (UV) light on them, which broke the sticky molecule’s bonds. Then, they used visible light to get the algae to swim away.

Algae will never be as fetching as your pet dog Spot or Fluffy. But they may eventually make your life a bit easier, working on microscopic assembly lines to help construct special microdevices for you and your body.—E. Sohn

Algae Motors
Algae Motors








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™