Agriculture
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Keeping Bugs Away from Food
Fast-flying fungal spores
Amphibians
Bullfrogs
Salamanders and Newts
Newts
Animals
Monkeys Count
Assembling the Tree of Life
A Whale's Amazing Tooth
Behavior
Baby Talk
A brain-boosting video game
Wake Up, Sleepy Gene
Birds
Waterfowl
A Meal Plan for Birds
Parakeets
Chemistry and Materials
Scientist Profile: Wally Gilbert
A Butterfly's Electric Glow
The chemistry of sleeplessness
Computers
Toxic Dirt + Avian Flu = Science Fair Success
The Shape of the Internet
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Have shell, will travel
Ancient Critter Caught Shedding Its Skin
Meet your mysterious relative
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Slip Slidin' Away—Under the Sea
Warmest Year on Record
Weird, new ant
Environment
Plant Gas
Seabirds Deliver Arctic Pollutants
Alien Invasions
Finding the Past
Traces of Ancient Campfires
Fakes in the museum
Meet your mysterious relative
Fish
Dogfish
Sharks
Tiger Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Making good, brown fat
A Pepper Part that Burns Fat
How Super Are Superfruits?
GSAT English Rules
Whoever vs. Whomever
Subject and Verb Agreement
Pronouns
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Mastering The GSAT Exam
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT Mathematics
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
Human Body
A Better Flu Shot
Taking the sting out of scorpion venom
Speedy Gene Gives Runners a Boost
Invertebrates
Black Widow spiders
Hermit Crabs
Mussels
Mammals
Pomeranians
Pekingese
Bears
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
How children learn
Physics
Invisibility Ring
One ring around them all
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Plants
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Getting the dirt on carbon
Bright Blooms That Glow
Reptiles
Copperhead Snakes
Pythons
Box Turtles
Space and Astronomy
The two faces of Mars
An Icy Blob of Fluff
Dark Galaxy
Technology and Engineering
Musclebots Take Some Steps
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
A Clean Getaway
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Ready, unplug, drive
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Where rivers run uphill
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
A Change in Climate
Arctic Melt
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™