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World's Most Powerful Optical Microscope 163

gamricstone writes "Scientists have produced the world's most powerful optical microscope, which could help understand the causes of many viruses and diseases. Previously, the standard optical microscope could only see items around one micrometre — 0.001 millimetres — clearly. But now, by combining an optical microscope with a transparent microsphere, dubbed the 'microsphere nanoscope,' the Manchester researchers can see 20 times smaller — 50 nanometres ((5 x 10-8m) — under normal lights. This is beyond the theoretical limit of optical microscopy. 'Seeing inside a cell directly without [it] dying and seeing living viruses directly could revolutionize the way cells are studied and allow us to examine closely viruses and biomedicine for the first time.'"
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World's Most Powerful Optical Microscope

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  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @02:25PM (#35359518)

    Actually, it would seem you fail English via trying to apply mathematical rules to it.

    The phrases 'times less than', 'times smaller', 'times fewer' have been in use in the English language for hundreds of years. Swift, Newton, Herschel, Boyle, and Locke all used those phrases at one point or another in their works. Now, generally speaking an argument from authority is not a good argument, but when you're talking about language which is by definition defined by the way it's used I think it is a sound one here. Those examples of usage are from hundreds of years ago, by some of the most educated, intelligent people of their times, I think it is safe to say the phrases were in standard usage then as they are now.

    Obviously you can argue that logically or mathematically the phrasing doesn't make sense. The thing about language is that is is neither mathematical nor logical.

  • How it works (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gbridge ( 746125 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @02:29PM (#35359562)
    There's (a bit) more information on the technique here: []
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @02:31PM (#35359584)

    I prefer engineering notation (indices of 3,6,9): 50e-09 m

    BTW why does it matter if they wrote 50 nanometers?

    I think the GP is largely complaining that they left off the 'e' in front of the exponent. Perhaps '-8' was written in superscript and somehow that formatting was lost. "5 x" is atypical but "10-8m" is wrong.

    You are correct that engineering notation would have made more sense, reminding readers what a nanometer is.

  • by Inzkeeper ( 767071 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 @03:08PM (#35360008) Journal
    "Among other tiny objects the scientists will be able to examine are anodized aluminum oxide nano-structures, and nano-patterns on Blue-Ray CVC disks, not previously visible with an optical microscope."

    Hmmm... Sounds like a DMCA violation to me.

APL hackers do it in the quad.